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CNN: General Says Iraq Hurt Katrina Response

excerpts from a report from CNN. September 9, 2005

The deployment of thousands of National Guard troops from Mississippi and Louisiana in Iraq when Hurricane Katrina struck hindered those states' initial storm response, military and civilian officials said Friday.

Lt. Gen. Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said that "arguably" a day or so of response time was lost due to the absence of the Mississippi National Guard's 155th Infantry Brigade and Louisiana's 256th Infantry Brigade, each with thousands of troops in Iraq.

"Had that brigade been at home and not in Iraq, their expertise and capabilities could have been brought to bear," said Blum.

Blum said that to replace those units' command and control equipment, he dispatched personnel from Guard division headquarters from Kansas and Minnesota shortly after the storm struck.

Blum also said that in a worst-case scenario up to 50,000 additional Guardsmen per month will be needed in Louisiana or Mississippi over the next four months to continue providing relief, law enforcement and other post-hurricane services.

Those 200,000 troops, if needed, would represent nearly two-thirds of the approximately 319,000 Guard troops available nationwide.

Democratic Rep. Gene Taylor of Mississippi, whose waterfront home in Bay St. Louis was washed away in the storm, told reporters the absence of the deployed Mississippi Guard units made it harder for local officials to coordinate their initial response.

"What you lost was a lot of local knowledge," Taylor said. "The best equipment went with them, for obvious reasons," especially communications equipment, he added.

You have been reading excerpts from "Iraq hurt Katrina response, general says" from CNN. You can read the entire piece here: tinyurl.com/7sz4d. Thanks to cnn.com.

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