A profoundly stupid meme circulating about the left (no links, you can guess where and whom) asserts that people are dying in New Orleans and elsewhere because there are insufficient Guardsmen on hand to deal with the Katrina catastrophe. Bush's war in Iraq, the line goes, has depleted the National Guard's ranks and is therefore harming Americans in need.
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.
Louisiana National Guards of the 256th Brigade Combat team leave the plane at the airport in Alexandria, Louisiana upon their arrival, Friday, Sept. 9, 2005. The first contigent of about 100 National Guards left Kuwait Thursday to return to the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina. Guard officials say 80 percent of the returning force lost homes, jobs and family in the storm and flooding.
"Had that brigade been at home and not in Iraq, their expertise and capabilities could have been brought to bear," said Blum.