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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 6, 2005

Gov. Blagojevich urges President Bush to replace basic Illinois Army National Guard equipment necessary to fulfill vital homeland security mission

CHICAGO – In the wake of a recent federal report highlighting that National Guard units’ supplies are well below full strength and the critical role the Illinois Army National Guard is playing at home and overseas, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich called on President Bush to replace essential equipment needed to fulfill a variety of emergency missions.

"I am writing today to request that the Illinois National Guard receive new, critical equipment to replace the equipment used and lost in combat operations in Iraq. The Illinois National Guard has been deployed extensively in Iraq, as well as Afghanistan and Louisiana, and essential equipment has been left behind. As a result, our National Guard does not have the equipment it would need if an emergency arose here in Illinois, and the lack of equipment impedes its ability to train properly for combat," Gov. Blagojevich wrote.

A recent General Accounting Office (GAO) report showed that, on average, National Guard units have only 34 percent of the equipment they need to be at full readiness. The Illinois Army National Guard currently has less than 10 percent of its necessary medium and heavy trucks and has only 65 percent of its required light trucks. The operational demands of the war have caused the Illinois Army National Guard to leave more than 400 vehicles and generators behind in Iraq thus far. This compounds significant, pre-existing shortages that already existed with a lack of trucks, radios, night vision devices and tactical generators.

"I know it is the province of the United States Army to determine how much equipment each National Guard unit receives, but we are reaching a point where the lack of equipment has

become a problem that the Army must address. If we cannot properly train our National Guard members for active duty, then that only harms the Army’s efforts. Ensuring that the Illinois National Guard receives the equipment it needs would help the National Guard help Illinois and help the Army in all of its efforts," Gov. Blagojevich added.

The full letter:

Dear President Bush:

I am writing today to request that the Illinois National Guard receive new, critical equipment to replace the equipment used and lost in combat operations in Iraq. The Illinois National Guard has been deployed extensively in Iraq, as well as Afghanistan and Louisiana, and essential equipment has been left behind. As a result, our National Guard does not have the equipment it would need if an emergency arose here in Illinois, and the lack of equipment impedes its ability to train properly for combat.

A recent General Accounting Office (GAO) report showed that, on average, National Guard units across the nation have only 34 percent of the equipment they need to be at full readiness. While the GAO report paints a bleak readiness picture nationwide, the picture in Illinois is even graver. The Illinois Army National Guard currently has less than 10 percent of its necessary medium and heavy trucks and has only 65 percent of its required light trucks. We cannot function properly at these levels.

 

The Illinois Army National Guard commitment to combat operations overseas means a great deal of its equipment is unavailable for use at home. The operational demands of the war have caused the Illinois Army National Guard to leave more than 400 vehicles and generators behind in Iraq thus far. This compounds significant, pre-existing shortages that already existed with a lack of trucks, radios, night vision devices and tactical generators.

 

I know it is the province of the United States Army to determine how much equipment each National Guard unit receives, but we are reaching a point where the lack of equipment has become a problem that the Army must address. If we cannot properly train our National Guard members for active duty, then that only harms the Army’s efforts. Ensuring that the Illinois National Guard receives the equipment it needs would help the National Guard help Illinois and help the Army in all of its efforts.

 

I urge you to give full consideration to the homeland security value of National Guard equipment and include in your budget request a plan to bring the Illinois Army National Guard up to 100 percent of its key equipment assets.

Sincerely,

Rod Blagojevich

 



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