Lieutenant General Steven Blum, the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, spoke to journalists at the US Military at Home and at War Conference. I summarized some of his comments about the National Guard in 2005:
- About 75,000 National Guardsmen are in 40 different countries.
- The National Guard made up half of the combat force in Iraq.
- The Guard took over the entire mission in Bosnia, Herzegovia, Kosovo, the counter-terror missions in the Horn of Africa and the peacekeeping missions in the Sinai.
- Before Hurrican Katrina landed, 8,500 Guardsmen were in place to respond. LTG Blum admits that they were not nearly enough.
- Eventually, 42,000 soldiers from the 54 National Guards (ie all of them) took part in the rescue, relief, and rebuild missions around Hurrican Katrina.
- 133 National Guard helicopters and crews were responsible for saving 17, 443 people from drowning (not just transporting them, but saving them from rising waters).
- When Katrina made landfall, Guardsmen were fighting floods in New Hampshire, Vermont and fighting forest fires in Idaho and Montana, blizzard conditions in North Dakota, securing the southwest borders of the United States and guarding critical infrastructure in New York.
- About one of every two Guardsmen were activated for duty in Iraq, Afghanistan, and in the Katrina ravaged south.
The one stat that jumped out at me was the saving of 17,443 people from the Katrina flood waters. Later, the Guard would move about 90,000 people to other locales...but air rescuing 17,443 people?!