New criticism of the Iraq war is emerging as Kansas residents complain too few National Guard troops are around to help in the aftermath of last weekend’s killer tornadoes. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says the complaints are “legitimate,” as he says more Guard members are being used in Iraq now than at any time since World War Two.
Grassley says: “The only response that I know is a decision that’s already been made that we increase our U.S. Army by 65,000. We’re in the process of doing that so that at future times, there should be less of a strain on the National Guard.” Grassley says the military is stepping up its recruiting efforts in order to put more troops into the “regular” army, so citizen-soldiers from the various states won’t have to bear such a heavy burden.
Grassley says: “Originally, I thought that we were headed towards 92,000 additional U.S. Army people when it was first proposed about seven-eight months ago. But I guess now we’ve settled on the figure of 65,000 U.S. Army additional people. That would be full-term military people so that the National Guard would not be called upon.”
Grassley says the military has its reasons for lowering the projected number of needed new troops and he denies it’s because it’s difficult to lure in new recruits. Grassley says, “No, I don’t think so. I think it’s a reassessment of what the need would be — 65,000 now being considered satisfactory as opposed to the original 92,000.”
President Bush is expected to visit parts of storm-ravaged Kansas Wednesday and will hear from that state’s governor about the lack of National Guard equipment, as so much of it is in Iraq.