Friday, September 02, 2005

Where's the News?

John asked in this post whether others were seeing evidence of the mobilization efforts that he knew were ramping up.

I heard on the radio that soldiers of the 81st Armored Brigade of the Washington National Guard would be going to help out. I don't watch local news on TV, so I did a little searching online. Here are some of the stories that popped up :

Washington State

Other areas

And, predictably, the NY Times is blaming the lack of response on the war. (Free registration required)

One of the major points in this piece is that the Guard should have been involved earlier and in larger numbers.

But it's already a very costly game of catch-up. The situation might have been considerably less dire if all of Louisiana's and Mississippi's National Guard had been mobilized before the storm so they could organize, enforce and aid in the evacuation of vulnerable low-lying areas. Plans should have been drawn up for doing so, with sufficient trained forces available to carry them out.

I agree. The local and state governments should have had plans in place, and if there were plans, they should have been implemented sooner. One of the keys here is that the federal government is being blamed for not reacting more quickly. And the Guard soldiers should be available. In other words - not off fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan.

It's too late for that now. But the hard lessons of this week must be learned and incorporated into the nation's plans for future emergencies, whether these come in the form of natural disasters or terrorist attacks. Every state must now update its plans for quick emergency responses and must be assured by the Pentagon that it will be able to keep enough National Guard soldiers on hand to carry out these plans on very short notice.

The article goes on to state that a larger active-Army would be required to allow the Guard to focus on their own states. This is all well and good. In fact, I would love to make the active Army grow, but I'm guessing that these same folks would fight at spending more federal money on that, when it means making a tough choice vice something else in the federal budget.

I still haven't heard anyone (in the MSM) point out how slow the reaction was at the local and state level. Did Lousiana's governor Blanco call for Guard involvement before the storm struck? Why not declare Martial Law the minute the levees were breached - it was a foregone conclusion at that point, and the ultimate civil unrest and human disaster were predictable.

There's more than enough blame to go around, if you ask me.