January 25, 2007

State National Guards on Troop Extensions

State National Guards on Troop Extensions

On January 11, the day after President Bush announced plans for a “surge” in US troops in Iraq, the Pentagon outlined how the force adjustments would affect over 20,000 soldiers. Further down the chain of command, the leaders of soldiers attached to the 1st Brigade, 34th Infantry Division of the National Guard informed their troops that they would be staying in Iraq for 125 extra days.

In Minnesota, home to 3,000 of the affected troops, the Adjutant General sent an email to soldiers and their families:

Is this a raw deal? Of course! We have every right to be angry, but the reality is that the long awaited homecoming will be pushed back. The message I want to give is that now, probably more than ever, is the time to reach out to each other and through mutual support, weather this set-back. I will be asking the State of Minnesota to step up to help the families of our soldiers. My hope is that this would help ease the burdens.

Major General Larry W. Shellito, Adjutant General of the Minnesota National GuardE-mail Sent to Families from Major General Shellito, Minnesota National Guard Press Release, January 10, 2007.

Iowa’s national guard HQ offered a bare-bones press release and an email to its 650 extended troops, but the Des Moines Register argued that this wasn’t enough:

Maj. Gen. Ron Dardis, the Iowa Guard’s top commander, sent out an e-mail Tuesday, absent the outrage evident in Minnesota. Just a few words saying the Iowa Guard “will provide updated information as it becomes available” and that it “stands ready to provide additional assistance to all 1-133rd Infantry families.”

John Carlson Carlson: Why the silence on Iowa troops’ extension?, Des Moines Register, January 17, 2007.

150 soldiers from the New Jersey National Guard got an equally candid response from their commander:

It’s very disappointing. These were soldiers who had an internal clock clicking. This is disappointing, and I think the soldiers are going to have a tough period of time here.

Major General Glenn K. Rieth, Adjutant General of the New Jersey National Guard Catch-22 Situation, The Trentonian, January 12, 2007.

The local press in Kentucky reported that the Kentucky national guard commander told 80 soldiers to just make the best of it:

“I do not expect anyone to be happy about this extension,” Storm wrote in the letter. “What I do expect is that our Guardsmen will nod their heads, salute and continue to carry out their mission to the best of their ability.”

Major General Donald Storm, Adjutant General of the Kentucky National Guard Troop surge to keep Ky. National Guard in Iraq , The Courier-Journal, January 12, 2007

And troops from Kansas got assurances that they were valued:

Our Guardsmen know there is always a possibility that they will be needed for additional missions or an extended timeframe and we appreciate the service they provide in protecting our nation. We know this means additional time away from their families and greater sacrifices for everyone involved. We will continue to support the families of the deployed soldiers and work to ensure the soldiers are brought home as soon as possible.

Major General Tod Bunting, Adjutant General of the Kansas National Guard Some Kansas Guardmembers May Stay In Iraq Longer to Support Global War on Terrorism , Kansas National Guard Press Release, January 12, 2007.

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