Nearly 90 percent of Army National Guard units in the United States are rated "not ready" -- largely as a result of shortfalls in billions of dollars' worth of equipment -- jeopardizing their capability to respond to crises at home and abroad, according to a congressional commission that released a preliminary report yesterday on the state of U.S. military reserve forces.
From Virginia and the District of Columbia to Indiana and New Mexico, National Guard units lack thousands of trucks, Humvees, generators, radios, night-vision goggles and other gear that would be critical for responding to a major disaster, terrorist attack or other domestic emergency, according to state Guard officials.
Other state Guard leaders voiced similar concerns. "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," said the head of the Indiana National Guard, Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger.
There's no much to say beyond the litany of problems; lack of equipment, lack of budgeting priority, recruiting problems, and a lack of preparedness for domestic incidents. This is a direct result of the over-use of National Guard troops to fight the insurgency in Iraq. Nothing can be done about that at this point, except to begin the process of bringing them home and re-preparing them for their real role, which is to provide manpower in case of emergency and be ready for limited engagement in war.