Editorial: National Guard says it isn’t ready

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 16, 2006

It would make sense that when citizens enlist in the National Guard, they know what they are getting themselves into. As a country, it would make sense that we explain it to them.

The National Guard traditionally serves a domestic role, helping out in emergencies. Citizens serve one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer. They know they can be called out for longer periods should local emergencies arise. With the war in Iraq, the National Guard has been elevated to serve as a backup for the regular Army.

However, the top National Guard general, Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum, announced Aug. 1 that more than two-thirds of the National Guard’s 34 brigades are not combat ready.

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&8220;I am further behind or in an even more dire situation than the active Army, but we both have the same symptons, I just have a higher fever,&8221; Blum said.

Meanwhile, the lives of many National Guard soldiers are on hold indefinitely. The news came that same first week of August that the Pentagon extended the tours of duty for 4,000 soldiers who had been scheduled to leave Iraq. Roughly one-third of the force in Iraq is from the Guard.

Their tours of duty in Iraq were extended without their consent, and they are fighting in a war that the generals themselves admit they are not equipped to fight. Plus, their presence will be needed should America face another terrorist attack or large-scale natural disaster.

When these citizens signed up for the Guard, it is doubtful many expected to put their lives, the lives of their families and the requirements of their civilian jobs on hold for as long as they have.

We salute them for their sacrifice, but we also wish they could come home.