So is the war in Iraq causing troop shortfalls for hurricane relief in New Orleans?
In a word, no.
A look at the numbers should dispel that notion. Take the Army for example. There are 1,012,000 soldiers on active duty, in the Reserves, or in the National Guard. Of them, 261,000 are deployed overseas in 120 countries. Iraq accounts for 103,000 soldiers, or 10.2 percent of the Army.
That’s all? Yes, 10.2 percent. That datum is significant in itself, a good one to keep handy the next time someone talks about how our forces are stretched too thin, our troops are at the breaking point, and so forth. If you add in Afghanistan (15,000) and the support troops in Kuwait (10,000) you still only have 12.6 percent.
So where are the rest? 751,000 (74.2 percent) are in the U.S. About half are active duty, and half Guard and Reserve. The Guard is the real issue of course — the Left wants you to believe that the country has been denuded of its citizen soldiers, and that Louisiana has suffered inordinately because Guardsmen and women who would have been available to be mobilized by the state to stop looting and aid in reconstruction are instead risking their lives in Iraq.
Not hardly. According to Lieutenant General H. Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, 75 percent of the Army and Air National Guard are available nationwide. In addition, the federal government has agreed since the conflict in Iraq started not to mobilize more than 50 percent of Guard assets in any given state, in order to leave sufficient resources for governors to respond to emergencies.
In Louisiana only about a third of Guard personnel are deployed, and they will be returning in about a week as part of their normal rotation. ...
Read it all at the link.
UPDATE: Let me add a couple of comments. I think Robbins' article in defense of the Guard deployments is good as far as it goes, but I don't want to just leave the issue here. Whether NG strength is diminished by a third, a quarter, or a tenth, it is nevertheless inescapable that every National Guardsman serving in Iraq is one National Guardsman not serving in the Continental United States. Every troop dedicated to the just and necessary war on terrorism and fascism is a troop deducted from the aggregate number of troops available for domestic emergencies such as Hurricane Katrina. In short, a glass half empty is still half empty.
James Robbins' numbers make me feel a little better, but we still need to address Americans' legitimate concerns about domestic security. I'll post more on this next week.