Paramilitary: National Guard Equipment Shortages

April 20, 2007: A hot topic in the news is stories of American reserve units returning from Iraq missing most of their equipment. That's because it's easier for units that took over major items (like armored vehicles), to leave them in Iraq, for their replacement troops. No point in moving all that heavy stuff back and forth. That meant that a lot of reserve (especially the state National Guard) units went over with their tanks and infantry armored vehicles, and came back without them.

Then there are the many units that previously deployed, and left their equipment behind, and were redesignated as other types of outfits, requiring less equipment. This has happened to a lot of armor, artillery and engineer units.

Still, there are major shortages of equipment in many National Guard units. It varies a lot by state. Ohio units have, on average, 65 percent of their equipment. At the other extreme, Maryland units have only about a third of their equipment. What hurts the most is missing trucks, hummers and communications gear. This is the stuff the National Guard uses when they respond to local disasters in their own areas.

The National Guard often gets used gear from the active forces, who are moving up to the latest model. This will continue, and means the National Guard can expect to inherit a lot of used armored trucks and equipment optimized for use in a tropical, sandy, climate. That works for some southern and western states, but not for those farther north. But this sort of treatment is nothing new for the National Guard, despite generations of complaints.

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