February 27, 2007
Ohio National Guard expecting to send more troops to Iraq
By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service
WASHINGTON Gov. Ted Strickland believes President Bush's surge
of troops into Iraq will require sending the Ohio National Guard
to the war zone early next year.
"It is likely, I believe, under the surge proposals that
additional Ohioans will be called into action perhaps as early
as the early part of next year," he said Monday.
Strickland was responding to reports that 2,000 or more Ohio
Guard troops could be sent to Iraq in 2008.
Ohio Guard officials said last week they have been notified that
the 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, which is based in
Columbus, could be sent to Iraq next year. Earlier, officials
were told the team might be deployed in 2009.
The team has about 2,400 troops in Ohio and 1,200 in Michigan.
The Ohio troops are based at units scattered across the state,
including the cities of Akron, Austintown, Cleveland and Medina.
So far, no decision has been made to send the team to Iraq,
Strickland, a Democrat, opposes the president's plan to deploy
more than 21,000 additional troops to Iraq.
"I think it's an unwise course of action and I am troubled that
young Americans and perhaps many young Ohioans will find
themselves being placed in that situation where they may lose
their lives, lose their health, lose their limbs," he said.
Yet Strickland also acknowledged that the wars in Afghanistan
and Iraq have not taken as much of a toll on the Ohio Guard as
it has on other states.
"I've heard from several of my fellow governors here in the last
couple of days about their intense concern about equipment that
their National Guard has available to them," Strickland said
after he and several other governors met with Bush in the White
But he added that "probably because of good planning on the part
of" the Ohio Guard's adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Gregory L. Wayt,
"Ohio is probably in a little better condition when it comes to
the volume and the condition of our equipment."
Strickland said Wayt told him "he believes that we do have
sufficient equipment to continue the kinds of training and
preparation that will be needed prior to our men and women
leaving Ohio and going to Iraq or Afghanistan."
Ohio Guard spokesman Mark Wayda agreed that Ohio's Guard is
better equipped than its counterparts in many states.
"We can do our homeland security missions," he said, referring
to the guard's capacity to respond to any potential attacks or
emergencies in the state.
The Ohio Guard has about 15,600 troops and airmen. Recent
studies and assessments have shown that while the average state
guard has only one-third of the equipment it needs, the Ohio
guard has 50 percent to 60 percent of what it requires.
However, Wayda said if the 37th Infantry Brigade team were to be
sent to Iraq, its personnel would first need to be trained in
using the type of equipment they would receive in Iraq.
The brigade has little of the "war-fighting equipment" it would
use in Iraq, he said.