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Thursday, June 09, 2005
 
Montana's national guard.
Montana is a beautiful place. Lots of mountains, trout streams, trees; you can see practically forever out there. Except during fire season. All of that pine and spruce on steep slopes makes for the world's largest potential bonfire; the terrain not only helps the fire, but it makes it awfully tough to get firefighters in to put it out.

Montana's national guard has always been a vital part of the personnel and equipment needed to keep these fires under control. That's what a state's national guard is for: to help out their state when they're needed. To deploy overseas to fight in an elective war for the federal government wasn't really what the Founders had in mind for the state militias:
"...Until Sept. 11, 2001, such state missions were the most visible role played by the National Guard,... but that has changed as about 45 percent of the US soldiers in Iraq are Guardsmen, a much greater percentage than in Vietnam or the 1991 Gulf War.

Andrew Krepinevich, director of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington, said governors may have to adjust to having fewer Guardsmen available for tasks such as stacking sandbags and putting out forest fires.

''I don't anticipate that the governor, or any governor, is going to get relief any time soon because the insurgency in Iraq doesn't seem to be abating and because the Guard is having increasing difficulty recruiting people, so the Guard may get smaller even as the demands on it grow," he said..."(Boston Globe, registration required)

45 percent. That's even more than Def's prediction of 43 percent last year. So the new national guard recruiting campaign should be...What?
Join the National Guard and get all of the combat with none of the benefits of the regular Army! You can use obsolete equipment-and have a higher chance of death or injury than your regular Army buddies! Lose your stateside job! Have your medical benefits cut off 90 days after you return--even if you've been wounded!
I would expect those recruiting and retention rates to remain in the crapper for quite some time. I hope Montana gets lots of rain this summer....
 
Shouting into the closet to inform and entertain the 10 people who actually read this thing. In our new format as an online magazine, we take pride in our reporting and opinions. Please leave reader feedback on our online magazine message board so that we can better serve you.

“There’s a lot of money to pay for this that doesn’t have to be U.S. taxpayer money, and it starts with the assets of the Iraqi people…and on a rough recollection, the oil revenues of that country could bring between $50 and $100 billion over the course of the next two or three years…We’re dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.” -Paul Wolfowitz

Cost of the War in Iraq
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