Guard Gutted and Hung Out To Dry
September 21, 2006: Potential disasters are developing in American National Guard units. Too many units are sending their vehicles and other equipment to Iraq, and not getting it back when the troops return. This is serious because, in effect, the National Guard is the local militia for the individual states. When the federal government is not using National Guard troops (which is most of the time), the troops answer to their state governor. The only time the governors call on the National Guard is when there is some kind of major emergency, usually a natural disaster. That's when the troops need their trucks, hummers, radios and what not.
But for the last three years, most National Guard units have gone to Iraq, and taken most of their gear with them. When the troops come home, the weapons and equipment usually stays behind, either to be used by the unit replacing them, or to replace stuff destroyed, or worn out, during operations. While this makes sense from a logistical point-of-view, it doesn't really work if the troops don't get replacement equipment after they return home. Many units have not. Some have been disbanded as a result, but most are told to wait, and make do with whatever bits and pieces they were able to scrape together. While billions of dollars has been spent on replacing the equipment, many units are still short.
The troops are not happy with all this, and are ready to use some of their personal equipment (including their own cars and trucks) to fill the gap if there is a natural disaster. But that sort of thing will also be a publicity disaster for the U.S. Army, which has the ultimate power over what kind of weapons and equipment National Guard units have.