Press Release of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer

For Immediate Release:
February 27, 2008  
Contact:
Washington D.C. Office (202) 224-3553

Boxer Concerned About California National Guard Equipment Shortages  

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) today wrote to Defense Secretary Robert Gates expressing concern that the California National Guard is ill-equipped to respond to natural disasters like wild fires and earthquakes, partially due to the war in Iraq. The letter also requests an overview of what additional resources are needed to properly equip the California Guard and an estimate of the timeframe for completion.

 The text of the letter follows:

February 27, 2008

The Honorable Robert Gates

Secretary of Defense

Washington, DC 20301

Dear Secretary Gates:

I am writing to reiterate the concern I expressed to you in a letter on May 24, 2007, and to President Bush on August 1, 2007, that the California National Guard is facing severe equipment shortages that could limit its ability to respond to natural disasters.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger echoed my concerns about equipment shortages during a meeting with President Bush yesterday.  Governor Schwarzenegger specifically pointed to the war in Iraq as a source of these shortages, stating, “It’s not fair to the states for the federal government to go into a war and then to take from us the equipment….Every time our National Guard leaves, they take with them equipment but they don’t bring it back.”

While I understand that the Department of Defense is working on a plan to fully equip the National Guard, it appears as though these efforts will take a decade or longer. Given California’s history of natural disasters, we simply do not have that long to wait. In particular, I would like to point to the extensive fire damage that California has suffered over the past few years. Unfortunately, there are no assurances that our State will not face a similar threat from fires in the upcoming fire season, and every day that we fail to equip our Guard we are gambling that there won’t be a major earthquake. As a Senator from California, I remain concerned that the federal Government has not fully provided the resources to respond appropriately to disasters and protect Californians.

As such, I would like a breakdown of what additional resources are needed to fully equip the California National Guard and an estimate of your timeframe for completing this task. Are there particular resources not included in the President’s Budget that could help accelerate the replacement of equipment that is required for the California National Guard?

Thank you in advance for your consideration of this important request. 

                                         Sincerely,

                                                     Barbara Boxer

                                                     United States Senator