As of June 27, about 2,300 Air and Army National Guard members remained on duty in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, and Wisconsin, assisting communities with flood relief. This number is down from the peak of 5,700 earlier this month, with the Guard’s flood actions having concluded in Indiana, for example. But in Illinois, more than 1,100 Guardsmen remained active, monitoring levees that are protecting farmland. And in Missouri around 800 Guardsmen continued to fight the rising waters in lower Mississippi River counties. Meanwhile, California officials called for more Guard air support to fight wildfires that have ravaged the state. Already C-130s fitted with special equipment have been dropping water and flame retardant on the fires, along with Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters, while RC-26 surveillance aircraft and Kiowa helicopters have been performing fire-spotting missions. Ironically, senior California lawmakers, including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), expressed concern to the White House in May over the Administration’s delays in modifying two California ANG C-130s for firefighting missions. (Includes NGB report by Army SSgt. Jim Greenhill)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.