Requirements for ongoing operations overseas have significantly depleted the National Guard's caches of equipment nationwide--an uncomfortable reality discussed only when hurricanes batter the American coastline or a wildfire rage out of control in California. A new government report, however, reveals that the National Guard is currently operating with less than half of the DOD-required level of equipment--a situation that calls into question the service's preparedness for any unforeseen domestic contingencies.
A GAO report released Monday on the Army's initiative to transform into a modular force structure mentions that the military's previous cost assessment would have to be re-estimated--among other reasons because of the unanticipated expense of having to equip the National Guard.
Equipment shortages have plagued the Guard since the invasion of Iraq, requiring the service to transfer equipment to units readying to deploy, or to leave equipment in Iraq for follow-on units. These methods have only had the effect of further worsening the problem in recent years, as the military has not moved to replenish the depleted stocks of the Guard. GAO reports:
These preexisting equipment shortfalls have been exacerbated over the past several years as National Guard units needed to transfer equipment between units to ensure deploying units were fully equipped. These equipment transfers, combined with the Army’s practice of leaving significant quantities of National Guard equipment in Iraq for follow-on units, have depleted National Guard equipment stocks nationwide to less than 49 percent of requirements.
The Army had originally estimated a budget of $21 billion to purchase new ground equipment for the National Guard, as part of the structural transformation into a modular force. GAO reports the Army has boosted that figure, and is now asking for $37 billion in equipment to supply the Guard through 2013.
However, the GAO advises, the extra $16 billion may not cover the whole bill as "senior Army officials have stated that this amount may not be sufficient to ensure that National Guard units are equipped to their authorized levels."
If you're interested in the GAO's report on "Force Structure: Better Management Controls Are Needed to Oversee the Army’s Modular Force and Expansion Initiatives and Improve Accountability for Results," read it here. d08145.pdf