Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Army National Guard: Always Ready?

The motto of the U.S. Army National Guard is "Always Ready - Always There" but, are they really ready?

A Feb. 14, 2008 report by the Government Accountability Office on current operations readiness suggests otherwise.

Equipment Shortages Affect Availability of Items for Nondeployed Units

The GAO report cites, "As we have reported, ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan combined with harsh combat and environmental conditions are inflicting heavy wear and tear on equipment items that, in some cases, are more than 20 years old.

In response to the sustained operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army and Marine Corps developed programs to reset (repair or replace) equipment to return damaged equipment to combat-ready status for current and future operations.

We also have reported that while the Army and Marine Corps continue to meet mission requirements and report high readiness rates for deployed units, nondeployed units have reported a decrease in reported readiness rates, in part due to equipment shortages.

Some units preparing for deployment have reported shortages of equipment on hand as well as specific equipment item shortfalls that affect their ability to carry out their missions.

The Army Chief of Staff has testified that the Army has had to take equipment from nondeployed units in order to provide it to deployed units.

The Marine Corps has also made trade-offs between preparing units to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan and other unit training.

In addition, the Army National Guard and Army Reserve have transferred large quantities of equipment to deploying units, which has contributed to equipment shortages in nondeployed units.

As a result, state officials have expressed concerns about their National Guard’s equipment that would be used for domestic requirements."

106th Aviation Illinois Army National Guard

Just three months after the GAO report, on May 21, 2008, the American Forces Press Service reports a different story.

“Today, the Department of Defense -- active, reserve and National Guard -- is better prepared to assist civil authorities than at any other time in our nation's history,” said Paul McHale, assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and Americas’ security affairs.

“Our men and women in military uniform are well prepared to provide substantial life-saving assistance to FEMA,” McHale said. “And with a sense of urgency, we will do so if called upon during the 2008 hurricane season.”

Who's right? Let's hope it won't take a hurricane or worse to find out.

Sources: Testimony Before the Armed Services Committee House of Representatives United States Government Accountability Office, MILITARY READINESS, Impact of Current Operations and Actions Needed to Rebuild Readiness of U.S. Ground Forces - PDF (02/14/2008)

Military Better Prepared Than Ever for Disaster Relief, Official Says (5/28/2008)


DD877 said...

My Dad was in the 41st Infantry Brigade "Oregon" From the beginning of WWII. They were trained and qualified in Jungle Warfare and spent the entire war in the Pacific Theater.
My Dad said that they were under trained and under equipped at first but by the end of the war did OK.

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