Idaho Examiner - Sen. Larry Craig News Releases

Thursday, October 27, 2005

CRAPO, CRAIG SEEK REPLACEMENT EQUIPMENT FOR IDAHO GUARD

Senators write President Bush to back Governor Kempthorne’s concerns

Washington, DC – Concerns that the Idaho National Guard does not have the necessary equipment to properly deal with potential disasters or domestic emergencies has sparked a letter to the White House by Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Larry Craig. In the letter to President Bush today, the Senators agree with concerns expressed by Governor Dirk Kempthorne and Adjutant General Lawrence LaFrenz that equipment Guard members left in Iraq will not be available for disaster response and that troops will be unable to maintain the advanced skills they learned on equipment that was left behind.

“The Army National Guard plays a crucial role in State response to domestic emergencies. The greatly diminished percentage of equipment on-hand in our Guard units carries with it the risk of not only denying these units the equipment needed to conduct good training for their combat mission but also leaves them with fewer tools to support State responses to natural disasters, terrorist incidents or other emergencies,” Crapo and Craig wrote in the letter to the President. “While it is possible to shift equipment from state to state, it is clear that National Guard response will be faster if the needed equipment is available for training and closer to the point of need.”

The Senators added the General Accounting Office (GAO) might also be of assistance in determining the needs of Idaho’s Guard. “Specific items of National Guard equipment are of particular value for homeland security purposes. These include trucks of various sizes, communications equipment, night vision devices, engineer equipment and helicopters. Unfortunately, the National Guard has troubling shortages in all of these areas. Nationwide the Guard has only 2/3 of the Humvees, 3/4 of the radios, half of the night vision devices and 1/4 of the modern medium trucks it needs to be mission responsive. Moreover, due to combat wear and the operational need for returning units to leave some equipment behind in the combat zone, these shortages are getting worse.”

Governor Kempthorne, returning from visiting with Idaho troops in the Middle East, met with both Senator Crapo and Senator Craig in Washington, DC today. The Senators want President Bush to include Idaho’s needs as he prepares his military and defense budgets for Fiscal Year 2007.

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