Battle Tanks vs. Bulldozers

It didn't take long for the left to figure out another way to attack GW on what are now regular rotations of the National Guard to Iraq and Afghanistan.  In the wake of the Hurricane Katrina disaster, the left and the media claim that because the National Guard is so heavily involved overseas, it cannot adequately respond to relief efforts here at home.  All of this blather is another attempt by the irrational, hate—Bush crowd to place blame on the President for not having a push—button response to every possible man—made or natural disaster that could beset our planet now, or a thousand years in the future.

This latest rant has been thoroughly debunked by James Robbins of the National Review Online.  However, this is not a new complaint.  Politicians from both the left and right started early last year criticizing GW and the SecDef about extended deployments of the Guard.  Since they encourage their constituents to believe that history began with the inauguration of George W. Bush, they don't have to admit that the current situation is a result of their own greed and political cronyism.

By the mid—70s, the Vietnam War had seriously drained the Army stationed in Europe, so the structure and role of the Army National Guard began to formally shift to one largely composed of combat arms formations designed as a supplementary force to the active Army.  In other words, reserve manpower to augment combat formations in mid— to high— intensity wars against the Warsaw Pact.  To satisfy this requirement, Guard units had to be equipped and trained as armor, mechanized infantry, and artillery combined arms teams.

In the 80s, this structure was solidified with formal affiliation of Guard round—out brigades to active component combat divisions, and in some cases, entire Guard divisions aligning with active duty corps.  The few remaining combat units in the US Army Reserve were either shifted to the National Guard, or were restructured as combat support and service support units.  But after the demise of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, members of Congress and the individual states fought tooth and nail to keep this Cold War structure.  It's easy to understand why; combat units generally require more manpower and resources for equipment, training, and maintenance than do combat support and service support units.  This translated into more federal dollars spread throughout the political landscape, and, as it turned out, an absolute dependence on the Guard for any future active duty unit deployments overseas.

The active component was then cut too severely in the 90s, and defense planners had no choice but to include National Guard units in contingency mission force packages that were normally composed of active duty forces.  The planners knew that these were missions the Guard would be hard—pressed to accomplish without an undue amount of preparation and training, even for stability and support missions in Bosnia and Kosovo.  In other words, the Congressman, governors, and the state adjutant generals got exactly what they wanted financially and politically.  That is, until Operations Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Iraqi Freedom (OIF) came along.

A glance at the National Guard troop overseas deployment status clearly shows us the key in understanding this made—up controversy.  There are nine brigade—sized combat units deployed overseas for OIF and OEF, including the 256th Mechanized Infantry Brigade from Louisiana.  At roughly 3000 Soldiers each, this amounts to about 27,000 troops in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.  But we need to look at the entire list below that.  All of these units are National Guard brigades and divisions equipped and trained for the direct combat role.  Even though they have trucks, helicopters, and engineer equipment as part of the organization that could be used in a natural disaster relief effort, their primary responsibility is to support their parent units' combat operations.

Naturally, the left and the major press has ignored or covered up this aspect of the Guard's critical warfighting role, and the units relatively low utility in disaster relief operations.  Manpower available to respond to recovery operations of a disaster is one thing, and the deployed units could certainly contribute Soldiers to the effort.  But the manner in which Guard units are equipped and trained has been noticed only by a few; most notably by an astute contributor at Redstate.  The Guard does have engineer units and MPs and the like to effectively help in recovery efforts.  But the presence of the 256th Mechanized Infantry Brigade in Iraq has little or no impact on relief efforts in Louisiana.

In other words, part of the equation is numbers of troops, but the other critical part is equipment and training.  What is the value added for committing a unit with Abrams Main Battle Tanks, Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles, and self—propelled artillery pieces to a natural disaster of this magnitude?  People on the lunatic left, such as Michael Moore can bloviate all he wants about our 'missing helicopters.'  But he cannot explain how Kiowa Warrior helicopters in National Guard air cavalry troops that are designed to carry only two crewmembers could possibly contribute to a large airlift operation involving thousands of evacuees.

Ironically, Rumsfeld and the Chief of the Army National Guard, Lt. Gen. Steven Blum, are pushing for the Guard to return to its traditional roles of homeland security and disaster response.  This is a mission change that should please GW's media and congressional critics as a necessary measure to bring the National Guard troops back to the States, and to give the Guard its proper focus on local and state missions.

So, why are the critics continuing to fight the administration in a restructuring that ostensibly will get more of the Guard back home?  It seems their hypocrisy knows no bounds

Douglas Hanson is the national security correspondent of The American Thinker.

It didn't take long for the left to figure out another way to attack GW on what are now regular rotations of the National Guard to Iraq and Afghanistan.  In the wake of the Hurricane Katrina disaster, the left and the media claim that because the National Guard is so heavily involved overseas, it cannot adequately respond to relief efforts here at home.  All of this blather is another attempt by the irrational, hate—Bush crowd to place blame on the President for not having a push—button response to every possible man—made or natural disaster that could beset our planet now, or a thousand years in the future.

This latest rant has been thoroughly debunked by James Robbins of the National Review Online.  However, this is not a new complaint.  Politicians from both the left and right started early last year criticizing GW and the SecDef about extended deployments of the Guard.  Since they encourage their constituents to believe that history began with the inauguration of George W. Bush, they don't have to admit that the current situation is a result of their own greed and political cronyism.

By the mid—70s, the Vietnam War had seriously drained the Army stationed in Europe, so the structure and role of the Army National Guard began to formally shift to one largely composed of combat arms formations designed as a supplementary force to the active Army.  In other words, reserve manpower to augment combat formations in mid— to high— intensity wars against the Warsaw Pact.  To satisfy this requirement, Guard units had to be equipped and trained as armor, mechanized infantry, and artillery combined arms teams.

In the 80s, this structure was solidified with formal affiliation of Guard round—out brigades to active component combat divisions, and in some cases, entire Guard divisions aligning with active duty corps.  The few remaining combat units in the US Army Reserve were either shifted to the National Guard, or were restructured as combat support and service support units.  But after the demise of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, members of Congress and the individual states fought tooth and nail to keep this Cold War structure.  It's easy to understand why; combat units generally require more manpower and resources for equipment, training, and maintenance than do combat support and service support units.  This translated into more federal dollars spread throughout the political landscape, and, as it turned out, an absolute dependence on the Guard for any future active duty unit deployments overseas.

The active component was then cut too severely in the 90s, and defense planners had no choice but to include National Guard units in contingency mission force packages that were normally composed of active duty forces.  The planners knew that these were missions the Guard would be hard—pressed to accomplish without an undue amount of preparation and training, even for stability and support missions in Bosnia and Kosovo.  In other words, the Congressman, governors, and the state adjutant generals got exactly what they wanted financially and politically.  That is, until Operations Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Iraqi Freedom (OIF) came along.

A glance at the National Guard troop overseas deployment status clearly shows us the key in understanding this made—up controversy.  There are nine brigade—sized combat units deployed overseas for OIF and OEF, including the 256th Mechanized Infantry Brigade from Louisiana.  At roughly 3000 Soldiers each, this amounts to about 27,000 troops in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.  But we need to look at the entire list below that.  All of these units are National Guard brigades and divisions equipped and trained for the direct combat role.  Even though they have trucks, helicopters, and engineer equipment as part of the organization that could be used in a natural disaster relief effort, their primary responsibility is to support their parent units' combat operations.

Naturally, the left and the major press has ignored or covered up this aspect of the Guard's critical warfighting role, and the units relatively low utility in disaster relief operations.  Manpower available to respond to recovery operations of a disaster is one thing, and the deployed units could certainly contribute Soldiers to the effort.  But the manner in which Guard units are equipped and trained has been noticed only by a few; most notably by an astute contributor at Redstate.  The Guard does have engineer units and MPs and the like to effectively help in recovery efforts.  But the presence of the 256th Mechanized Infantry Brigade in Iraq has little or no impact on relief efforts in Louisiana.

In other words, part of the equation is numbers of troops, but the other critical part is equipment and training.  What is the value added for committing a unit with Abrams Main Battle Tanks, Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles, and self—propelled artillery pieces to a natural disaster of this magnitude?  People on the lunatic left, such as Michael Moore can bloviate all he wants about our 'missing helicopters.'  But he cannot explain how Kiowa Warrior helicopters in National Guard air cavalry troops that are designed to carry only two crewmembers could possibly contribute to a large airlift operation involving thousands of evacuees.

Ironically, Rumsfeld and the Chief of the Army National Guard, Lt. Gen. Steven Blum, are pushing for the Guard to return to its traditional roles of homeland security and disaster response.  This is a mission change that should please GW's media and congressional critics as a necessary measure to bring the National Guard troops back to the States, and to give the Guard its proper focus on local and state missions.

So, why are the critics continuing to fight the administration in a restructuring that ostensibly will get more of the Guard back home?  It seems their hypocrisy knows no bounds

Douglas Hanson is the national security correspondent of The American Thinker.