U.S. Homeland Security director Tom Ridge says he’s concerned about the military’s reliance on so many part-time National Guard troops who’ve been called to full-time active duty. Ridge says when he was governor of Pennsylvania, he relied on the National Guard when there were disasters or significant emergencies, and many of the men and women who wear the Guard uniform also wear local police, fire fighter or Emergency Medical Services uniforms, too. Ridge says “a lot of the states are presently struggling with the reduction of the Guard, generally, which they would use to respond to natural weather disasters,” and Ridge says “some of the communities are struggling because there’s been in a reduction in their first responders.” Ridge says he’s talking with Pentagon officials about a possible change in the mission of the Guard, to ensure more are serving stateside. Ridge says Guard members “bring some special assets and very special training that can be used in response to terrorist attacks” and Ridge says he’d like to have the Guard available to states and communities. Ridge spoke to Radio Iowa by phone this morning, just before leaving Iowa. On Wednesday afternoon, Ridge spoke to employees at an insurance company and chatted with Iowa State Fair officials about security measures for the fairgrounds.
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