Stretched thin?


Is the National Guard still able to help out in times of emergency back home?

National Public Radio today is reporting that Iowa is turning to retirees of the National Guard to assist in domestic emergencies, because so many National Guard members have been deployed overseas.

“The National Guard provides a number of things in our local communities besides just disaster work,” one local official told NPR today. “But certainly from our perspective, that’s when we need them the most. And you have to sit up and take notice of those numbers being someplace else.”

NPR noted that no National Guard troops were used in the flooding in Iowa a few weeks ago, contrasting that to 2008 when 4,000 troops were dispatched to local communities. In fairness, the 2008 flooding was much worse than 2010.

And Minnesota?

“There is no such program in Minnesota,” according to Lt. Col. Kevin Olson, the director of public affairs for the Minnesota National Guard.

He says Minnesota has a much larger National Guard force than Iowa. There are about 14,000 members of the Minnesota National Guard.

“Even with a projected large deployment next year (up to 2,700), there are sufficient forces in Minnesota to meet any state requirement,” according to Olson..

(Photo: U.S. Soldiers assigned to the Iowa Army National Guard construct a 7-foot levee to protect an electrical generator from rising floodwaters in Hills, Iowa, June 14, 2008. Iowa National Guard Airmen and Soldiers have been activated to work with state and local agencies to provide security and help recover areas damaged by widespread flooding. DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Oscar M. Sanchez-Alvarez, U.S. Air Force via Flickr.)

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