The notices below about calling up National Guard Troops sends chills down my spine.Â My family is the only one that I know personally that has had a member recently in the Guard.Â That was my daughter who, following her graduation from Cornell, planned to pursue her medical education through the military.Â Her experience was actually excellent and she received a second degree qualifying her for a medical specialty.Â I met a number of her military buddies from diverse backgrounds and on the basis of her experience even recommended to an occasional student that he/she might follow this route.Â However, this was all back during the Clinton years when our military was a force for peace-keeping.Â And fortunately after her marriage and the arrival of children my daughter decided not to re-up and to do her medical training privately which she is now doing.However, she is a lucky one.Â Most of those in the National Guard are older. They saw their service as part-time — a stint of retraining during two weeks of the summer, a day out of a weekend once a month, and preparation for any emergencies that might afflict their state.Â These men and women are now putting at risk not only themselves but the parenting of their young children whom they are leaving behind for hazardous 15 month tours in Iraq or Afghanistan.Â If they do not return in a coffin, far too many of them are wounded physically or psychologically.Â This morning I watched with horror the report of the death this past week of a mom of 3 young children who was scheduled to return home this weekend!
Need I point out the obvious. The Bush administration has clumsily engaged us in at least one unnecessary war and now intimates that it might just engage in what Bush calls WW3?Â To quote from my signature below: “A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)
What can one say?Â We are a nation cruelly divided between those who are sacrificing their lives and those of their loved ones for the benefit of greedy military industrial complex profiteers who are running our country off the edge of the most dangerous of cliffs!Â Ed Kent]
National Guard Faces Call-Ups for 2008, ’09
By Ann Scott Tyson
The Washington Post
Thursday 18 October 2007
The Pentagon this week plans to alert at least seven National Guard units to be ready for deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan in 2008 and 2009 as the military’s reserve forces are increasingly called upon to relieve the strain on active-duty troops, officials said yesterday.
The call-ups are aimed at preparing forces to replace the approximately 13,000 Army National Guard troops in four brigades that will begin flowing into Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan over the next two months. In addition, they will help ease the burden on active- duty troops that has grown with the increase of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan this year, the officials said. Currently, there are about 170,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and 26,000 in Afghanistan.
â€œAll the active component brigades have been used as part of the surge, and the requirements are not going away,â€ a National Guard official said. â€œYou create holes when you surge units forward, and someone has to fill them,â€ said the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the Pentagon had not yet alerted the units.
If Guard units are not called up as replacements, the Army will lengthen deployment times for active-duty soldiers beyond 15 months, or cut back their time at home to less than a year, the official said.
Officials declined to specify which National Guard combat brigades and other units would be called up, saying they want to notify families before an announcement. The plans to alert the Guard units were first reported by the Associated Press.
Meanwhile, a U.S. commander in Iraq said that the first of five Army brigades to be withdrawn would result from a shift in Northern Iraq where a brigade would expand its territory to cover a portion of Diyala province when another brigade leaves in December.
The National Guard troops will perform combat patrols, secure convoys and guard detainees, among other missions, officials said.
In January, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced that the Pentagon would lift some restrictions on Guard and reserve call-ups and allow some reserve units to be remobilized sooner than planned – meaning more involuntary call-ups for individuals. Meanwhile, he reduced the length of the mobilizations for reservists to a maximum of a year at a time, in contrast to the 16 to 24 months that had become standard.
National Guard leaders welcomed the change, because it allows them to remobilize entire units, rather than calling up individuals from a variety of units in a piecemeal fashion.
Nevertheless, the 12-month cap on Guard deployments means that the Army can expect to have those units in Iraq or Afghanistan for about nine months, as they need time to train. That, in addition to other factors, makes it difficult for National Guard combat brigades to serve interchangeably with active-duty Army brigades, and has created new frustrations for Guard leaders.
Guard combat brigades heading to Iraq in coming months, for example, have not been assigned as single unit to patrol large areas but, instead, have been parceled out to perform many smaller missions under the command of active-duty units.
For example, the 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the Indiana National Guard was asked to break up into 21 security companies rather than to deploy as a unified force, a decision that hurts the unit’s cohesion, said Maj. Gen R. Martin Umbarger, adjutant general of the Indiana National Guard. The Army has worked to keep the brigade leadership intact, even if the missions remain dispersed, Guard officials said.
Guard Names Brigades Tapped for Deployments
By Michelle Tan
Saturday 20 October 2007
The Defense Department announced Friday that eight Army National Guard brigades have been alerted for deployment, seven to Iraq and one to Afghanistan.
More than 21,000 soldiers are affected by this call-up. They are scheduled to begin deploying in the summer in rotations that will continue into early 2009.
Two of the eight brigades recently alerted will replace two active Army brigades currently in Iraq. They are:
â€¢ 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division of Philadelphia. The unit is projected to deploy in February, 2009.
â€¢ 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team from Clinton, N.C. The 30th HBCT last deployed February 2004 to February 2005. The 30th BCT is expected to deploy in April, 2009.
Four brigades, ranging in size from 1,100 soldiers to about 3,000, will have a security force mission, and they will replace a capability currently being provided by more than 160 smaller, separate units in theater. Deploying these units as brigades will simplify the command and control for these missions. Security force missions include base defense and route security in Iraq and Kuwait.
All are projected to deploy in fall, 2008:
â€¢ 56th BCT, 36th Infantry Division, Camp Mabry, Texas. The brigade last deployed December 2004 to December 2005.
â€¢ 29th BCT, Fort Ruger, Hawaii. Its last deployment was December 2004 to January 2006.
â€¢ 81st BCT, Seattle, Wash. The brigadeâ€™s last deployment was February 2004 to March 2005.
â€¢ 45th Fires Brigade, Enid, Okla.
Another brigade alerted for duty, the 50th BCT of Fort Dix, N.J., will run detention operations in Iraq. About 4,000 soldiers with the 45th are projected to deploy in fall, 2008.
The 2,700 members of the 33rd BCT from Decatur, Ill., are slated to deploy to Afghanistan, where they will train the Afghan National Army. Some of the 33rd BCT soldiers are to deploy this summer; the majority are to head over later in the year.
These most recently alerted units will join more than 12,000 soldiers from four Guard brigade combat teams that were alerted for duty in April. They were to begin deploying in December and continuing through 2008.
The units alerted in April are the 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team from Little Rock, Ark., the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team from Oklahoma City, the 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team in Columbus, Ohio, and the 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of Indianapolis.
Two of those brigades, the 39th IBCT and the 76th IBCT, have previous deployments. The 39th was deployed March 2004 to March 2005; the 76th was deployed April 2003 to May 2004.
A DoD announcement in January calls for Guard and Reserve troops to be mobilized for no more than 12 months at a time, which means soldiers must complete as much individual and small-unit training as possible before they leave for their mobilization stations.
Guard and Reserve leaders have said they want their soldiers to serve at least 10 months boots on the ground in order to maximize on mobilizations and give other units as much time at home as possible, pushing for units to be alerted for possible duty as early as 12 months before their potential deployments in order to make it easier to plan and conduct pre-deployment training.
“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)
Ed KentÂ 212-665-8535 (voice mail only) [blind copies]