WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following up on concerns raised by Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley regarding the Maryland National Guard's readiness to deal with local emergencies,
Senators Benjamin L. Cardin and
Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-Md.) today urged National Guard Bureau Chief Lieutenant General Steven Blum to re-equip National Guard units based on risk.
The National Guard is funded as a national program, with state allocations coming from the Guard Bureau. Senator Mikulski, a member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, has pledged to fight to increase national funding for the Guard in the fiscal year 2008 Defense spending bill. Earlier this month, she asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates to amend the Department of Defense's 2008 request to add the $5.1 billion the Guard says it needs to fill their equipment shortfall for this year.
The text of the letter is below:
Dear Lieutenant General Steven Blum,
We are concerned that the National Guard equipment shortage is weakening Maryland's emergency preparedness. Deployments of our Guard personnel and equipment have left the Maryland National Guard undermanned and under-equipped to respond to an emergency in the National Capital Region.
Every state faces different threats, from tornados to terrorism. Maryland must not only be prepared to respond to hurricanes and paralyzing snow storms, but to the daily threat of a terrorist attack against federal assets in the National Capital Region. With depleted inventories of trucks, helicopters, generators and communications equipment, our National Guard units are not ready to provide the fast, robust response that our nation expects.
As Congress continues to fight to provide the National Guard the additional funding it needs to address the current equipment shortfall, we urge you to re-equip states according to the risks they face. We look forward to working with you to ensure that every state in the Union is prepared to protect the homeland and help our citizens in times of need.