March 3, 2007
Ohio Guard more ready than many other units
By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service
WASHINGTON The Ohio National Guard is better prepared for
domestic emergencies than some might assume from a recent
assessment of the nation's reserve forces, state guard officials
said this week.
But they noted that the state's guard lacks the ability to train
on the modern equipment it would use if deployed to war zones
Two thousand or more troops in the Ohio Guard's 37th Infantry
Brigade Combat Team, including more than 500 in units based in
Austintown, Akron, Cleveland and Medina, could be deployed to
Iraq early next year, adding to other Ohio guard members serving
overseas, officials said last month.
In a report released Thursday, an independent commission painted
a bleak picture of the ability of guard units across the nation
to take on missions, either overseas or in the United States.
The report from the Commission on the National Guard and
Reserves said "the equipment readiness of the Army National
Guard is unacceptable and has reduced the capability of the
United States to respond to current and additional major
contingencies, foreign and domestic."
Arnold L. Punaro, a retired Marine Corps general who chairs the
commission, said 88 percent of guard units "are not ready due to
OHIO LAWMAKERS REACT
Elected officials, including Gov. Ted Strickland and Rep. Ralph
Regula, R-Bethlehem Township, have just begun to digest the
Regula said Friday the guard and reserve "must be afforded
adequate resources and training in order to meet our national
Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Niles, has not read the report but his main
concern is whether the Ohio Guard troops who may be sent to Iraq
are "equipped with the body armor, training and equipment
necessary to protect their lives when they are over there," Ryan
spokesman Brad Bauman said.
IS OHIO GUARD OK?
When it comes to domestic missions, the Ohio Guard is better
equipped and prepared than many of its peers in other states,
"We feel, in Ohio, extraordinarily prepared for those missions,"
Ohio National Guard spokesman Mark Wayda said.
While many states have just 35 percent of the equipment they
need, Ohio has 61 percent, he said. "That gives us a great deal
of capability for the homeland security fight," according to
But he added that the guard lacks the modern equipment it would
use to fight overseas.
"The first time they see that kind of equipment is when they get
to the mobilization station for that two months of training
before going out," he said.
GUARD WANTS TO OFFER INPUT
In addition to stressing the need for more equipment for the
guard, the commission report says the reserve needs a stronger
voice in the nation's military councils.
But the commission opposes legislative proposals backed by Sen.
Sherrod Brown, D-Avon, Rep. Zack Space, D-Dover, Strickland and
others that would give the chief of the National Guard, Lt. Gen.
H. Steven Blum, a seat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The Ohio guard favors those proposals, which it believes would
give the guard more input into high level decisions that affect
In a press conference this week, Punaro said the commission
unanimously rejected the change, which he said would be a "huge
step backwards" for efforts to make the different branches of
the military service work together.
Instead, the commission recommends making the guard chief a
senior adviser to Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joints
Chief of Staff.
Reacting to the commission report, Brown said he still backs the
"Our goal remains the same ... to make sure that the National
Guard has direct say in decisions affecting guardsmen and
guardswomen and their families," he said.