- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 4, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

“The country’s military still has limited capacity for rapid response for domestic emergencies.” (“Homeland security agenda,” Voices, Jan. 26).

While we must always work to improve, the American people can be assured that the National Guard is the best trained, best equipped, and most prepared force in the world capable of providing support following a disaster.

The National Guard has made great improvements over the past six years. We have developed and delivered an impressive and unmatched array of critically needed response capabilities. This transformation has led to faster, more efficient interstate support, and the National Guard is being put to the test every day.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, in his written testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Jan. 27 noted that “the ‘man-days’ that Guardsmen have spent fighting fires, performing rescue and recovery, and other duties increased by almost 60 percent in 2008 as compared to 2007.”

An example of the National Guard providing support and coordinating on all levels is the recent presidential inauguration. The National Guard from 33 States and the District of Columbia formed a joint task force of more than 10,000 personnel who provided communications, transportation, traffic control, medical and logistical support, helping to ensure a record number of citizens had a safe and enjoyable 2009 inaugural ceremony.

On any given day, multiple governors call out their National Guard and quickly respond to natural disasters such as fires, winter storms, hurricanes, earthquakes and floods, or to perform search-and-rescue missions, or conduct counterdrug operations.

Last fiscal year, the 53 certified Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Teams executed 281 support missions. Our Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Enhanced Response Force Packages (CERFPs) participated in numerous “real world” deployments.

The National Guard has a 372-year record of serving our country in times of war and peace and remains ready to respond across the full spectrum of operations here at home, and abroad.

GEN. CRAIG

R. McKINLEY

Air Force

Chief, National Guard Bureau

Arlington

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