The Cost of Iraq War – Nearly Five Years Later


Impact on the National Guard & Reserves

Our brave troops have been fighting the war in Iraq for nearly five years and the toll on our national security and homeland defense capability can be felt across the country. From the beginning of the war, the Bush Administration has leaned heavily on the National Guard and Reserves — deploying our nation's “strategic reserve” alongside our active-duty Armed Forces with great frequency — stretching and straining our readiness here at home.

“We think there is an appalling gap in readiness for homeland defense, because it will be the Guard and Reserve that have to respond for these things.”
– Ret. Maj. Gen. Arnold Punaro, Commission on the National Guard & Reserves [Washington Post, 2/1/08]

“We have absolutely piecemealed our forces to death.”
– John Goheen, National Guard Association of the United States [San Diego Union-Tribune, 2/1/08]

Impact on the National Guard:

· More than 464,797 servicemembers in the National Guard and Reserves have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001 — one quarter of these courageous men and women have been deployed more than once. [Department of Defense, 1/31/08]

· The Commission on National Guard and Reserves released a report at the end of January concluding the Pentagon is not prepared to protect our country from a nuclear, chemical or biological attack inside the U.S. in large part because of the repeated deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. According to Retired Major General Arnold Punaro, the commission chairman: “We looked at [the Pentagon's] plans. They’re totally unacceptable…You couldn’t move a Girl Scout unit with the kind of planning they’re doing.” [ABC News/Reuters, 1/31/08]

· The prospect of being activated, and possibly deployed, for a prolonged period of time has resulted in a widespread shortfall of spiritual personnel in the Army National Guard and Reserves. The Army Reserves needs more than 100 chaplains and the Army National Guard is short 250 chaplains. There are no imams to minister to Muslims in the Army National Guard and Reserve. [USA Today, 2/5/08]

· Oahu, Hawaii has been without helicopter medevac service for nearly six months because the Hawaii National Guard — which filled in after the Army cancelled service in 2006 because the helicopters were needed in Iraq — sent its helicopters to Iraq. [Army Times/AP, 2/11/08]

· Governors from across the country have recently called on the Bush Administration to remedy the readiness shortfall and overall troop strain being borne by the states:

o California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger: “I think it is not fair to the state for the federal government to go into a war situation and then to take from us the equipment…Every time our National Guards leave, they take with them equipment but they don’t bring it back. So there’s only so long they can do that.” [San Diego Union-Tribune, 2/25/08]

o Iowa Gov. Chet Culver: “I want much more support for the Iowa National Guard…They have served with honor and distinction but also with stress and strain. We need more services (to address) their injuries, their equipment, to provide for their needs when they return. These are real heroes and they have needs that must be attended to.” [Gazette, 2/24/08]

o Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer “pushed the administration for more equipment for National Guard troops and better treatment for those who return with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.” [Billings Gazette, 2/26/08]

· In a February address to the state legislature, Iowa National Guard Adjutant General Ron Dardis said this of the state of the Iowa National Guard: “Six years of war and 10,000 mobilized soldiers and airmen leaves no doubt we are an organization that is stretched and stressed…Ladies and gentlemen, this is what keeps me awake at night. I worry so much for the health and well-being of our soldiers and airmen and their families. We are trying to assist in every way possible and yet it never seems enough… Investments in training and equipment are meaningless if we turn our backs on the needs of citizen-soldiers and airmen when the deployment is over…Not only is this a readiness issue for the National Guard — we need them for future missions — more importantly, it's the right and honorable thing to do.” [AP, 2/20/08]

· Massachusetts' undersecretary of homeland security, Juliette Kayyem is confident the Commonwealth's National Guard is able to respond in the event of an emergency, however, “the Guard has been running a sprint for six years, and we cannot expect the people serving and the equipment to continue” at that pace. [Boston Globe, 2/1/08]

· This summer, the New Jersey National Guard is scheduled to deploy an estimated 3,000 soldiers to Iraq — the largest deployment of the state's Guardsmen since World War II. [Courier Post, 2/24/08]

· Major General Tod Bunting, Kansas National Guard Adjutant General and director of homeland security, says the National Guard is struggling with a shortage of equipment for training exercises and manpower. “We're simply not where we need to be.” [Topeka Capital Journal, 2/1/08]

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