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February 10, 2007

Wisconsin Guard In Good Shape: “Job Well Done” – Kagen

(GREEN BAY) Following a series of disturbing reports that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have left National Guard units dangerously short of aircraft, trucks and other gear needed to respond to natural disasters and other emergencies at home, Congressman Steve Kagen, M.D. met with officers of the Wisconsin National Guard Saturday.

Rep. Kagen met with the officers to learn what the Guard needs to excute its mission.

Nationally, almost 9 out of 10 Army National Guard units that aren’t serving in Iraq and Afghanistan have less than half the equipment they need to respond to a domestic crisis, according to Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau. Less than 45% of Air National Guard units have the equipment they need to deploy.

By some reports, 40 percent of our entire military equipment is in Iraq and Afghanistan and the National Guard is stretched to the limits.

Congressman Kagen was briefed by Brigadier General Jerry Olesen, Commander, Wisconsin Air National Guard; Col. Larry Olson (Retired) Executive Assistant to Major General Al Wilkening, Adjutant General of Wisconsin; Lori Getter, Wisconsin Division of Emergency Management, Public Information Officer; and Lt. Col. Tim Donovan, Director of Public Affairs.

The Guard officers told Congressman Kagen Wisconsin is in good shape compared with other states where equipment inventory has been severely depleted by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Wisconsin Guard will need 47,000 pieces of equipment worth about $758 million to meet modernization and transformation requirements, according to the Wisconsin National Guard.

“The Guard officers assured me we’re in good shape to deal with any emergency that may come up. I have full confidence in the men and women serving in the Wisconsin National Guard. I am committed to ensuring they have the equipment and resources they need to continue delivering a job well done,” Kagen said.

The Guard officers also briefed Kagen on programs to track returning Guard troops who may have employment grievances. National Guard soldiers are entitled by law to have their old jobs back when they return home. A GAO report released on February 8 says Federal agencies are failing to track employment complaints filed by returning National Guard soldiers, including wounded soldiers.

The Wisconsin Guard is doing a very good job of tracking returning service members’ job issues. Statewide, there are only 4 employer cases. “we’re from Wisconsin, and we do the right thing,” Kagen said.

Curtis Ellis
202 225-5665 (office)


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