Iraq depleting Guard’s equipment, Easley says
May 14, 2007 – Years of war in Iraq have cut into the North Carolina National Guard’s fleet of trucks, communications equipment and other gear, and the state could come up short in a major hurricane or “no-notice” disaster, Gov. Mike Easley said today.
Easley is co-chairman of a committee of the National Governors’ Association that deals with National Guard issues.
Speaking in a telephone news conference today, Easley said that the Guard in North Carolina has enough equipment to handle hurricanes up to category 3, such as Hurricane Fran in 1996. The state’s Guard has about 55 percent of its “dual use” equipment, such as trucks, that can be used both in wars and in disasters at home.
Also speaking at the news conference was Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, who is trying to get Congress to approve $1 billion to help replace the Guard’s missing equipment nationwide. The total needs are $24 billion, Leahy said.
Guard officials in individual states work through a central office to share equipment needed for disasters. Hurricanes offer time to plan and move equipment into place, Easley said. But one that strikes several states could mean the equipment would have to come from farther away, costing lives, he said.
More troubling would be “no-notice” disasters such as a terrorism attack or a pandemic, he said.
Also, Easley said, the lack of equipment cuts into training, and continued use of Guard troops in Iraq is wearing down the Guard. Unless something changes, by 2009 Guard units will struggle to handle deployments, he said.
Staff writer Jay Price can be reached at 836-4526 or firstname.lastname@example.org.