Gov. Jay Inslee and Maj. Gen. Bret Daugherty, Washington's adjutant general, today urged national defense leaders to convert the National Guard 81st Armored Brigade Combat Team to a Stryker Brigade.
Inslee and Daugherty joined their counterparts in Oregon and California last week in sending a letter to the secretary of the army, the army chief of staff and the chief of the National Guard Bureau.
Providing the 81st -- with units in California and Washington -- with Stryker vehicles would give the National Guard more modern equipment, including vehicles that could be deployed during state emergencies.
"The 81st now uses old tanks that are too heavy to use on our roads during emergencies," Inslee said. "By converting the 81st to a Stryker Brigade we achieve a double win. Our National Guards would have an enhanced ability to respond to local emergencies such as floods, fires and earthquakes. In addition, a conversion would position this equipment closer to the Asia-Pacific region where the U.S. military is placing a heavier focus."
As soldiers return home from Iraq and Afghanistan, the Department of Defense is also returning equipment that hasn't yet been assigned to any military installation. In their letter, the governors and adjutants general highlight that placing returning Strykers with the National Guard would eliminate the need for the U.S. Army to spend money on vehicle storage and maintenance. It would also provide the Army easier access to these vehicles for homeland defense and overseas wartime missions at a lower cost to U.S. taxpayers.
The National Guard has long been known for its cost effectiveness. A recent two-year Department of Defense report to Congress stresses the cost effectiveness of the National Guard and Reserves in building up national security capabilities.
Currently, there is only one National Guard Stryker Brigade located in Pennsylvania. Converting the 81st to a Stryker Brigade allows for close alignment with the Stryker Brigade Center of Excellence at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, California's National Training Center at Fort Irwin, and Oregon's Umatilla/Boardman Training Complex.