Letter to Lieutenant General H. Steven Blum, Chief, National Guard Bureau Re: Sending N.J. National Guard and Equipment Abroad
PALLONE URGES PENTAGON TO RECONSIDER DECISION SENDING N.J. NATIONAL GUARD & EQUIPMENT ABROAD
U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) today voiced concern over a Pentagon decision to send half of New Jersey's National Guard troops and a large portion of their equipment abroad to aid in the war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The New Jersey congressman sent the following letter to Lieutenant General H. Steven Blum, Chief of the National Guard Bureau, asking that the Pentagon reconsider the decision.
October 19, 2007
Lieutenant General H. Steven Blum
Chief, National Guard Bureau
1411 Jefferson Davis Highway
Arlington, VA 22202
Dear Lieutenant General Blum,
I am writing today regarding the Pentagon's recent decision to deploy more than 3,000 soldiers from the New Jersey National Guard to Iraq and Afghanistan by the summer of 2008. Sending more than half of New Jersey's National Guard troops abroad will severely deplete the ability of the National Guard to respond to domestic emergencies in New Jersey.
Furthermore, this deployment will send a large portion of the New Jersey National Guard's equipment overseas, specifically helicopters, trucks and radios. What's particularly troubling is that this deployment could call for the state's entire fleet of helicopters to be sent abroad. This would leave New Jersey extremely vulnerable during emergencies such as a hurricane, Nor'easter or severe flooding, all of which would rely on the availability of helicopters to help rescue people stranded in areas that cannot be reached by traditional land vehicles.
A report from earlier this year by the Congressional Commission on the National Guard and Reserves showed that 88 percent of National Guard units nationwide have less than half of the equipment required to perform missions at home. Please provide me with information on exactly how much of the New Jersey National Guard's equipment, particularly helicopters, will be sent overseas as part of this deployment.
In addition, I would also like to know how many of the New Jersey National Guard troops that are being deployed have already served time in Iraq or Afghanistan and how long they have been at home since their last deployment. It is not right for National Guard soldiers that have already been deployed during this war to be forced to go through another deployment.
It is simply unacceptable for New Jersey's citizens to be put at risk during major emergencies because of a shortage of personnel or equipment. I ask that you reconsider this decision to send more than half of the New Jersey National Guard to the Middle East by next summer. Your timely response is appreciated.
FRANK PALLONE, JR.
Member of Congress
Cc: Maj. Gen. Glenn Rieth