Guard unable to deal with 2 hurricanes

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by ghostrider, Aug 18, 2006.

  1. ghostrider

    ghostrider Resident Poltergeist Founding Member

    Guard unable to deal with 2 hurricanes <!-- END HEADLINE -->
    <!-- BEGIN STORY BODY -->By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press Writer Thu Aug 17, 6:17 PM ET

    WASHINGTON - Strapped by war and equipment shortages, the National Guard will find it difficult to deal with two or more major hurricanes if they sweep ashore in different regions around the same time, Guard leaders say.
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    To counter equipment shortfalls caused largely by the <FORM class=yqin action= method=post> </FORM>Iraq and <FORM class=yqin action= method=post> </FORM>Afghanistan wars, the Guard has borrowed more than $500 million worth of equipment from the active duty military to restock its units. Thousands of trucks, Humvees and other supplies have been shifted mostly from inland states' Guard units closer to where storms are more likely to strike.
    Army and Air Guard officials also are spending at least $900 million on new communications equipment and hundreds of tractors and trucks.
    But that may be too little, too late, for states warily watching the weather reports as the nation enters peak hurricane season.
    If a hurricane hits North Carolina and another one spins toward Texas, "we would have to make some very difficult decisions," Col. Pat Tennis, the National Guard's director of operations, told the Associated Press.
    "Have we thinned the lines? Yes we have. Could we deal with the consequences of another hurricane like Katrina? Yes. Could we deal with two? That would be very challenging," Tennis said.
    Guard officials, he said, would have to "look at population densities, what states could volunteer their equipment ... and we would have to travel equipment longer distances in order to meet the emergency."
    Tennis' comments come nearly a year after more than 50,000 Guard members from across the country raced to the Gulf Coast to assist in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which destroyed wide swaths of the Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas coasts.
    Similar concerns were expressed by Gen. Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard. Blum said the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have taken a toll on the Guard's equipment.
    "We have to be able to respond even faster here at home than they have to overseas," said Blum, adding that because of agreements between state adjutants general, "we are able to move equipment from other states, to make up for the shortfalls in some states. We have to do that every single day to make the mission work."
    According to documents, the Guard has borrowed 3,418 pieces of equipment from the active military, ranging from generators and Humvees to refueling tankers and medical gear.
    One Guard document says the states should already have had the equipment as part of their warfighting capabilities, but "due to deployments and stay behind equipment for (Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom), the states are particularly short."
    Military units departing Iraq have left hundreds of trucks and Humvees in the war zone, and lost many others due to wear and tear or attacks.
    The Army is vowing to spend $21 billion between 2005 and 2011 to buy new equipment for the Guard, including funds to replace hundreds of trucks and trailers. Army spokesman Paul Boyce said there will be a "firewall" around the Guard money to insure the full amount is protected against budget cuts, and he said separate funding for the Reserves will be in the 2007 budget requests.
    "We're spread really, really thin. That's a common concern that I hear about," said Maj. Gen. Roger Lempke, president of the Adjutants General Association of the United States. "My concern is having enough equipment to support a major event in a state."
    Lempke, who is adjutant general in Nebraska, agreed that multiple crises will be difficult to handle.
    "If we get sequential or simultaneous events, it could be a problem. We might not have the equipment we need nearby and we might have to go clear across the country to get it."

    He said Guard units in North Carolina and Louisiana, for example, had to leave a lot of equipment, including trucks and Humvees, behind in Iraq and need replacements to meet their training and homeland security needs.
    Right now, he said, his home state is borrowing two Black Hawk helicopters from Arizona to help with firefighting, because Nebraska sent eight of its aircraft to Iraq. And those two helicopters, he said, "were vital to saving two towns" in the western region of the state.
    According to a budget document dated late last week, the Army and Air National Guard are buying more than 200 five-ton tractors; about 2,000 cargo trucks, and more than $300 million in communications equipment, including about 200 mobile tracking systems. Some of the equipment has been bought, other purchases are not completed.
    U.S. Northern Command, which is largely responsible for homeland security, has also bought more mobile communications equipment, and would be ready to move that into a region if needed.
    "We just have to keep the process going and keep our fingers crossed in the meantime," said Lempke. "I think they're doing the best they can." ___
  2. yonder

    yonder No Despot's Servant

    Some states like South Carolina were wise enough to keep their state guard active. The rest of the hoplophobes tried to disavow any support for state militias. You reap what you sow.
  3. sniper-66

    sniper-66 Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    The lead in says guard unable to deal with two hurricanes, but the man that made the statement said "that would be very challenging"
  4. Seawolf1090

    Seawolf1090 Retired Curmudgeonly IT Monkey Founding Member

    Having severely down-sized the military is a mistake that is really coming home to roost now. Luckily, this year's hurricane predictions have been scaled back from the earlier estimates. Still, two bad storms like last year's one-two punch would really test us.

    And a lot of folks are just now getting paid for last year's damages!

    <Good to see you over here, Yonder!>
  5. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Hopefuly there would also be more folks who would have gotten a wake up call from Katrina and figured out to be ready to do for themselves. If everyone takes care of at least the basics for them selves (food, water, protection) and at least some pitch in for comunity things like sandbaging and so forth then there should be very little for the guard to do anyway.
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