Alexander Asks President Bush to Include Funding to Reequip National Guard Units in Budget

Posted on December 30, 2006

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has written President Bush asking him to include funding in his Fiscal Year 2008 budget to replace equipment that National Guard units were forced to leave behind in Iraq to ensure they are able to carry out their important training and missions at home. “More than 10,000 members of the Tennessee National Guard have served overseas in support of our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their units left most of their equipment behind, and it’s urgent that it be replaced soon,” Alexander wrote. “Reequipping the National Guard is one of the biggest challenges we face in funding the Defense Department,” he wrote. “Guard units have been equipped to do their jobs in combat overseas, only to come home and find that what equipment was not destroyed in combat had to be left behind for others to use. This leaves their units without enough resources to carry out their important role here at home, such as responding to events like Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters.” Alexander also raised the issue of reequipping the Guard with Defense Secretary Robert Gates when the two met in Alexander’s office in early December prior to Secretary Gates' confirmation by the Senate. Text of Senator Alexander’s letter follows. December 26, 2006 The President The White House Washington, DC 20500 Dear Mr. President, I am writing to ask that you include funding in your FY08 budget to fully reequip the National Guard. More than 10,000 members of the Tennessee National Guard have served overseas in support of our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their units left most of their equipment behind, and it’s urgent that it be replaced soon. Reequipping the National Guard is one of the biggest challenges we face in funding the Defense Department, particularly in light of the Guard’s vital role in both combat and domestic response missions. Guard units have been equipped to do their jobs in combat overseas, only to come home and find that what equipment was not destroyed in combat had to be left behind for others to use. This leaves their units without enough resources to carry out their important role here at home, such as responding to events like Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters. I appreciate the Pentagon’s recent announcement that additional funding will be directed towards reequipping the National Guard over the next five years. However, additional funding is needed in the short-term to ensure that the National Guard has adequate resources to carry out the missions that we rely on them for today. I look forward to working with you and Secretary Gates on our shared goal of ensuring that the needs of he men and women of the National Guard are fully met. Sincerely, Lamar Alexander United States Senate