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Report: Guard Deployments to Iraq Leave CO Unprepared for Emergencies

April 18, 2007

On the heels of news that thousands more National Guard troops are headed for Iraq, a new report says the Guard is already stretched thin and, while none of the new deployments will come from Colorado, the state is already under-prepared for emergencies at home. General Melvyn Montano is a national expert on troop readiness who served for years with the Guard in New Mexico. He says the Guard is key in responding to all kinds of situations in Colorado.

"Prison riots, floods, heavy snows, forest fires are problems, and we have some great big forests in Colorado and we have some terrible forest fires here where we have to respond."

Montano notes that men and women serving in the Guard also play important roles in Colorado communities when they aren't in uniform.

"Also when the Guard deploys, your first responders leave, your doctors, your nurses, your firemen, your law enforcement people. Who fills those voids while they're gone in case something happens back here?"

Montano adds that it's not only people, but the lack of important equipment and vehicles that would normally be available for emergencies. He says some of the Guard equipment currently in Iraq also could have been used to respond to this winter's blizzards or the recent tornado in eastern Colorado.

Over 5,000 National Guard and Reserve troops from Colorado have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Eric Mack, Public News Service - CO