RECENTLY ON TOL:
- A tumblr site dedicated to the people and places that make up Oregon and Southwest Washington.
- Send me an email if there is activity in this thread.
No Guard At Home
"This is a hardship for their families and communities. This is a hardship for Oregon. Taking half the army guard and all 12 search and rescue helicopters will leave us vulnerable to natural disasters like our recent floods, and Oregon taxpayers will have to pay for the long term care of the returning wounded."
And SGardine asked about attacks in the U.S.:
"There are some things that are left vulnerable in this country without our troops. What if terrorists came to the country and there was no muscle to battle? They are all in IRAQ! What happens if we need them and it's too late?"
I called Major Michael Braibish after the show to get his take on these questions. He says there are some specific plans in place for the much-reduced Guard to handle Oregon disasters. For example, he says, 300 National Guard members were certified as firefighters last summer to make sure the governor has enough fire-fighting troops to call on if need be. (And don't worry, CC Bell: those folks are staying in Oregon, not bringing their new skills to Iraq.) One UH-60 (aka a Black Hawk) helicopter is currently on loan from Idaho — it's in Salem right now — and Oregon will borrow two others when that one goes home.
Some context on those examples: Braibish says the most number of National Guard soldiers ever deployed to fight forest fires in one summer is 1600. Last summer, none were. And while twelve UH-60s are now in Iraq, there are still nine helicopters in Oregon: four OH-58 Kiowas, which can be used for law enforcement or search and rescue, and five CH-47 Chinooks, which can be used for fire fighting and medical evacuations. (The latter are in Pendelton.)
On the possible response to a terrorist attack, he noted one National Guard unit that is never deployable. That's a mobile lab that can analyze any suspicious substance on site. His overall take as spokesman for the Oregon Military Department is this:
"We're not going to have all the resources in the I-5 corridor that we've had. Some responses will take longer, some will take shorter. Half the troops are going to be gone. We're going to feel it. But I'm very confident we are going to be able to take care of the state."
One more request for facts that we didn't get to during the show: JimBowman wanted to know the constitutional difference between the Guard and Reserve, as well as who owns all the equipment they're taking with them. According to Braibish, the difference is command. The Guard is under the Governor until they are transfered to the command of the President during mobilization. Reserve (and active duty troops) are always under the President's command. And the feds pay the vast majority of the Guard tab.