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Public Statements

US Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health, and Iraq Accountability Act, 2007

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. TROOP READINESS, VETERANS' HEALTH, AND IRAQ ACCOUNTABILITY ACT, 2007

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. Mr. Speaker, I would like to submit this letter from Connecticut Governor Rell for the RECORD. This letter to Chairman SKELTON echoes the sentiment that has been debated in this Chamber and reaffirms why the bill before us today is so important. As we move forward with a new direction in Iraq, we must address the readiness of our military; we must provide the necessary support and equipment to our troops--this includes the National Guard in Connecticut and across the country.

STATE OF CONNECTICUT,

HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT,

March 21, 2007.
Hon. IKE SKELTON,
Chairman, House Armed Services Committee,
Washington, DC,
Hon. DUNCAN HUNTER,
Ranking Member, House Armed Services Committee, Washington, DC.

DEAR CHAIRMAN SKELTON AND RANKING MEMBER HUNTER: I am writing to express my concern regarding the consequences of continued, long-term equipment shortages facing the Connecticut Army National Guard. This issue impacts Connecticut's ability to respond to domestic emergencies as well as meet the requirements of the Global War on Terrorism.

At this time the Connecticut Army National Guard only has 48 percent of its authorized equipment, with 10 percent of that in the possession of Soldiers deployed overseas to Afghanistan and Iraq. Connecticut's shortfall is unfortunately representative of the equipment shortages facing Governors and their Guard units across this Nation. Currently the national average stands at 40 percent of authorized National Guard equipment on-hand within the 54 states and territories.

The equipment shortages in the Connecticut Army National Guard exceed $200 million. The specific shortages include the following:

Over 200 High-Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV).

One CH-47D Chinook cargo helicopter.

21 Large Support Vehicles (wreckers, tankers, heavy cargo vehicles).

Over 600 Weapons (rifles, pistols, and crew-served weapons).

Over 1,500 Night Vision Goggles.

The Secretary of Defense's new mobilization policy now requires that units of the Army National Guard meet training requirements and certification prior to mobilization. The certification of these units is now the responsibility of the State Adjutant General. To fully implement this policy, the Army National Guard needs a reasonable density of equipment in order to adequately train and certify Soldiers and their units for war. With the current lack of equipment making this task nearly impossible, this long-awaited policy change is sure to fail.

It is foreseeable that units with less than 40% of their authorized equipment will experience significant difficulties and delays in certification and validation for deployment. This delay could extend the length of mobilization of units and the redeployment of units in theater, thus disrupting the deployment cycle. The shortage of equipment on-hand not only impacts the Army National Guard's ability to train for deployment, but also directly impacts its ability to respond to state emergencies and disasters.

The Army National Guard is a proven, cost-effective, capable combat force in the Global War on Terrorism and an essential state force provider when called to respond at times of domestic disaster and emergency. It is for these reasons, I respectfully request that you consider the urgent need to fully fund and equip our Army National Guard. When the next natural disaster or terrorist act hits, the Nation will be counting on us all to get the response and recovery right. We could make no better investment toward delivering against that expectation than to ensure our National Guard's capabilities are appropriately resourced and robust.

Sincerely,

M. Jodi Rell,
Governor.

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