Governor Tom Vilsack’s sounding the alarm about National Guard equipment being damaged or left behind in Iraq and Afghanistan. Vilsack spoke today (Wednesday) at the second annual governor’s conference on homeland security, and he said the overseas use of Guard equipment could leave Iowa and other states unprepared for a local disaster. “The reality of the situation today is the equipment being used by the National Guard today is being sent with the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq and it’s either getting destroyed or it’s really getting beat up,” Vilsack says. “At this point in time there’s really no specific, concrete committment that we can see to replace that equipment.” Vilsack says there’s no immediate crisis and Iowa’s Guard will be able to respond to a flood or tornado that occurs today. “You have to look long term. You can’t just look at today. You have to say, well, ‘Where are we going to be a year from now or two years from now?’ and that’s the concern,” Vilsack says. Iowa National Guard Adjutant General Ron Dardis says they need everything from humvees to tanks. “Today, I think we have the equipment available for the events that we normally have, you know, our floods, our winter storms, our tornadoes,” Dardis says. But Dardis says if a “major terrorist event” were to occur in Iowa, there’s is “some question” as to whether the Guard has the equipment on hand to respond. Dardis says the Guard has “long lines” of equipment waiting for repair and some active duty soldiers find their primary task is to repair equipment. There is a National Maintenance Training Center at Camp Dodge and some regular Army soldiers have been sent there to help re-mobilize the machinery of war. Vilsack says he and other governors from around the country have raised their concerns on this issue with federal officials.
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