Iraq War Leaving US With Insufficient Helicopters For Disasters

Then conservatives call to stay the course in Iraq under the delusion that staying indefinately will increase the chances for stabilization of the region, they ignore the costs of staying. They are oblivious to the cost in terms of strengthening al Qaeda and Iran while weakening the United States in the middle east. They are quick to ignore the cost in lives as it is much less than in some previous wars. It is difficult to comprehend to full monetary cost with numbers in the billions. Perhaps looking at some of the more mundane effects at home will begin to demonstrate that we are paying a price to continue this failed policy. The Blotter provides just one example today:

While the Defense Department has pushed extra equipment to units in hurricane-prone states in part to compensate for what has been ordered to Iraq, an investigation has found some Plains and western states have few if any helicopters on hand to respond quickly to a disaster.

And a backup system of sharing helicopters between states may not be as helpful as it’s billed, experts say.

“We’re on the ragged edge” in Nebraska, the state’s adjutant general, Roger Lempke, told a panel of concerned U.S. lawmakers Thursday, describing the absence of helicopters in his state. Nebraska’s contingent of Blackhawk helicopters are deployed in Iraq, leaving few aircraft for disaster relief missions at home.

The central and western United States faces a summer of predicted above-average wildfire activity and an unusually high spate of tornado activity.

Nebraska’s situation is not unique. Arkansas National Guard can’t count a single helicopter of its own in-state, although it is borrowing a few from neighbors. National Guards in Kansas, Texas and Montana report the vast majority of their helicopters are deployed out of state, mostly in Iraq and Afghanistan. Colorado’s National Guard has deployed 17 of its 20 helicopters to Iraq, leaving three to help domestic missions like fighting wildfires.

Earlier in the month, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius complained that,  “hat the state is missing vital National Guard equipment because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan” hampering their response to the recent  tornado.  The White House denied these charges and tried to blame Sebelius for the shortages, despite documentation that she has  protested  about such shortages previously.  This story  today lends further credence to Sebelius in that matter.

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