New Orleans Disaster: Where’s the National Guard?

Lessin is a founder of Military Families Speak Out. She said today: "The numbers we have are that there are 11,000 National Guard personnel from Louisiana, of whom about 3,000 are in Iraq with most of the heavy equipment. This included generators and high-water and other vehicles which could assist with the rescue effort."

She added: "My daughter is in New Orleans in a hotel with no plumbing and no electricity. Meanwhile, the residents of New Orleans -- particularly working and/or poor people -- do not appear to be having the rescue attempts that they desperately need right now."

CELESTE ZAPPALA, via Ryan Fletcher,
Celeste Zappala’s eldest son, Sgt. Sherwood Baker, was killed in action in Baghdad on April 26, 2004. She said today: "The disaster in New Orleans is the kind of thing that Sherwood signed up to help with. Instead he ended up being the first member of the Pennsylvania National Guard getting killed in combat since World War II -- while searching for alleged Iraqi weapons of mass destruction."

Solomon is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and author of "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death." He said today:
"The same priorities that sent U.S. troops into Iraq nearly 30 months ago have hampered the rescue effort after this catastrophic hurricane. If not for the White House's determination to pursue the war in Iraq, thousands of men and women in the National Guards of Louisiana and Mississippi would have been on the scene when the hurricane struck. Now, the administration is refusing to hasten the return of the 3,700 soldiers from the Louisiana National Guard who are currently in Baghdad and not scheduled to come home for several more weeks. Another 3,000 men and women in the Mississippi National Guard are scheduled to stay in Iraq, according to the Associated Press. These National Guard members, who are intimately familiar with their own communities, were -- and remain -- uniquely suited for crucial tasks back home. But the administration is determined to 'stay the course' in Iraq. This is symptomatic of White Houses priorities that have placed the president's fixation for war in Iraq above all else."

PHILIP CROWLEY,, [or via Jay Heidbrink,]
Senior fellow and director of national defense and homeland security at the Center for American Progress, Crowley organized the conference "Transforming the Reserve Component for the 21st Century" in September 2004.

He said today: "What Katrina brings home is the reality we are pulling the Guard in several directions. ... Given the additional strains of Iraq and Afghanistan, right now, the National Guard [at home] only has about half the equipment it normally would."

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

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