What’s the Matter IN Kansas? The State of the Guard

this just came in from Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office:

The war in Iraq has had a serious impact on the National Guard and its ability to protect and assist Americans in times of disaster here at home.

On Friday May 4th, a massive tornado ripped through the town of Greensburg, Kansas killing at least 10 people and leaving the town in ruins. Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius told the media that the recovery effort has been hampered by the National Guard’s lack of equipment as a result of the Iraq war:

“Well, states all over the country are not only missing personnel, National Guard troops are — about 40 percent of the troops on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan — but we’re missing the equipment. When the troops get deployed, the equipment goes with them. So, here in Kansas, about 50 percent of our trucks are gone. We need trucks. We’re missing Humvees, we’re missing all kinds of equipment that can help us respond to this kind of emergency.” [CNN, 5/7/07] *********************************************************************
The warnings about National Guard readiness have been clear – states are not as ready as they should be to respond to natural disasters and other emergencies here at home.

That is why the Democratic-led Congress included in the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Health, and Iraq Accountability Act $2 billion, not requested by the President, for a NEW Strategic Reserve Readiness Fund of which $1 billion is for Army National Guard equipment shortfalls. Unfortunately, the President vetoed this bill, along with this additional funding for the Army National Guard, on May 1.
GAO Report, January 2007
“The high use of the National Guard for federal overseas missions has reduced equipment available for its state-led domestic missions, at the same time it faces an expanded array of threats at home.” [GAO, “Reserve Forces: Actions Needed to Identify National Guard Domestic Equipment Requirements and Readiness,” January 2007]
Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum
Chief, National Guard Bureau
“They (the governors) are rightfully concerned that while the personnel part of the Guard has never been better, never been more ready, the equipment piece to the National Guard back here at home has never been less ready, and they are trying to resolve that obvious disconnect…The message is clear: What we have in the budget does not produce the level of readiness that they feel comfortable with.” [Stateline.org; 2/25/07]
North Carolina Governor Michael Easley
Co-lead on National Guard issues for the National Governors Association
“We the governors rely on the Guard to respond to natural disasters, a pandemic or terrorist attack…Currently, we don’t have the manpower or the equipment to perform that dual role” of responding to both state and federal needs. [Los Angeles Times, 2/25/07]
Maj. Gen. Arnold Punaro
Chairman of the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves
“Well, right now, we’re not prepared. We are not prepared for the threats this nation faces here at home. And because in this business you can’t be half-ready or half-prepared, you’re either ready or you aren’t.” [PBS, NewsHour, March 1, 2007]
Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger
Head of the Indiana National Guard
“What keeps me up at night is, I think I am able to surge . . . for the normal disaster, but if I needed to deploy every bit of my soldiers and airmen, I know for a fact I do not have enough equipment.” [Washington Post, 3/2/07]
Lt. Col. Pete Schneider
Spokesman for the Louisiana National Guard
“We are really concerned about vehicles…We would have enough for a small-scale issue . . . maybe a Category 1 tropical storm we could handle — an event that doesn’t involve massive flooding or massive search and rescue.”[Washington Post, 3/2/07]

Col. Robert Simpson
Director of the Joint Staff for the Virginia National Guard
In the event of “a very large . . . chemical, biological or nuclear incident in the national capital region, I would need every truck I was authorized, and we don’t have that…We are definitely short trucks, all wheeled vehicles,” as well as radios, bulldozers and other gear. [Washington Post, 3/2/07]