Monday, August 29, 2005

It's not a forest fire

One of the first things I thought about when they activated the National Guard and started shipping them off to the Gulf again was "who's going to fight forest fires?" After all, the National Guard seems to be the de facto force involved whenever you see stories about Idaho and Montana beginning their semiannual charcoal festival. If you're a good libertarian, I guess this comes as an opportunity to get big government out of the picture and allow private companies to become involved in the process - but when your life is on the line, the price involved can start to really escalate for consumers (after all, consider private contractor trucking in Iraq - six figure salaries with few taxes aren't unheard of) and the result isn't private companies filling the gap, but counties and states that can't afford the services at all.

But are forest fires the only disasters states face? Obviously not. Swing State Project examines how the lack of vehicles and National Guard members is affecting Louisiana's ability to deal with Katrina: "JACKSON BARRACKS -- When members of the Louisiana National Guard left for Iraq in October, they took a lot equipment with them. Dozens of high water vehicles, humvees, refuelers and generators are now abroad..." It would be one thing if all the equipment was missing and that was the end of the issue, but the truth is, many of the members of the Louisiana National Guard are simply never coming home at all: "In no state have those deaths registered more than in Louisiana. Louisiana, along with New York, has lost more guardsmen and reservists - 23 as of July 24 - than any state in the nation..." It's really something when you have to wish your soldiers were here in the middle of a hurricane instead of Iraq because that's the hard place and not the rock.


Anonymous said...

Red River flooding 1997. I was mobilized and spent almost three weeks in the flood zone.

The bigger question is the overal structure of the US Armed Forces. The allignment that happened after Vietnam where in the National guard shifted from a combat arms to a combat service and support focus is really what is going on.

To be perfectly honest a large part of the current mission in Iraq is nation building in a coin-ops enviroment. The best troops for these missions are actually not the active duty combat troops but rather the national guard.

The guards soldiers tend to be older and less trigger happy. They also have other non-military skills which can be a huge mission multiplier in this enviroment. Their civilian skills become as valuable over their as their ability to shoot, move, and communicate.

Ideally you would mix your forces about 70% National Guard and 30% killers.


car said...

I agree with Goon, you got to put your forces where they are needed and the Guard is way better utilized in Iraq than providing help for the filthy sinful hippies around New Orleans and the gambling houses in Miss.

PTW said...

If you listen to Lt. Col. Susan Whiteaker (88th, I think) talk about military activities in Iraq, (and I did, in person, last month) it's clear a very large portion of what our servicepeople are doing is building and rebuilding - and Goon, therefore, has an interesting point about Guardspeople bringing important skills to that theater (as well as to Afghanistan). At the same time, we need to remember that as valuable as those men and women are overseas, they are as invaluable here when something like Katrina happens. Or 9/11. Or Grand Forks.

Car's point is pretty much lost in the muck created by "filthy sinful hippies." I note with some interest that his favorite book is the Bible, favorite flick that pornographically violent The Passion of Christ, and interests include "conservative values," "filthy hippies," "stocks," and fast cars. One wonders what he thinks of hippies who drive fast cars. More importantly, one wonders what called down the Wrath of God onto the folks flooded out of their homes by the Red River. There must have been more filthy hippies living in North Dakota than anyone realized before the Flood there, but you can't fool God!

Anonymous said...

LTC Susan Whiteaker is my mother in law. She is a wonderful person and extremely effective in her job. She is with the 88th regional command based out in Bloomington MN.