Congressman Dave Loebsack says a bill to be considered in the House next week would set aside millions to replace Iowa National Guard and Reserve equipment left behind in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill also includes money to fix up a handful of Iowa military facilities.
“We have a number of Guard facilities that need modernization in the state of Iowa,” Loebsack says. “It does include $2 million to upgrade the National Guard facility in Fairfield.” That Fairfield facility maintains vehicles and other “ground equipment” for the Guard.
Loebsack, a Democrat from Mount Vernon, serves on the House Armed Services Committee. The panel gave its approval to the spending plan early Wednesday morning — shortly after 2:30. The plan also calls for replacing aging Armed Forces Reserve Centers in Cedar Rapids, Middletown and Muscatine.
“Those all have to be modernized. They have asbestos. They’re prone to flooding. They have a lot of problems,” Loebsack says. “…We’re hoping even to move one of those up a little bit sooner, if we can, but for sure those will be modernized next year.” The House Armed Services Committee voted to spend 600-million more on National Guard equipment than President Obama recommended.
“Certainly, we put significantly more funds as far as readiness is concerned in this bill,” Loebsack says, “and equipment is a part of that.” Many Guard and Reserve units, including those from Iowa, shipped equipment overseas to support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, but much of that equipment remained overseas when the units ended their tours of duty. Loebsack says replacing that equipment on the stateside is crucial because of the “dual function” of the Guard.
“We want to make sure that if, in fact, we have more disasters which we’re likely to have in Iowa whether it’s floods or tornadoes, that the National Guard has the equipment they need,” Loebsack says.
The Armed Services Committee plan calls for a 3.4% pay raise for those who serve in the military.