COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio's governor said Tuesday he is worried that National Guard troops who have been told to prepare for a possible deployment to Iraq won't have proper training and equipment.
"These men and women are going to be paying the price, I think, for failure to adequately plan, to predict, and it troubles me," Gov. Ted Strickland told National Public Radio's "Morning Edition."
National Guard troops in Ohio, Arkansas, Indiana and Oklahoma are preparing to serve as replacement forces in the regular troop rotation for the war. It will be the second tour for several thousand of them.
The 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team in Columbus is being called up for the second time in two years, though past practice would have dictated they not be called again until 2009, Strickland said.
"There are so many concerns that I have — the effect on employers, the effect upon families of these men and women — and I just think this is an example of the government not keeping faith with the men and women who have volunteered to serve in the Ohio National Guard," the Democratic governor said.
He called on the Bush administration to take steps to assure that the soldiers are properly trained and given the most up-to-date body armor, night-vision goggles and weapons.
"I want to make sure that the soldiers who leave Ohio to go to the war zone have been given every advantage they need in order to be safe," he said.
The Commission on the National Guard and Reserves said in a March report that National Guard troops don't get enough money or equipment, and the Government Accountability Office released a similar finding in January.
Strickland said the federal government is asking Ohio Guard members to go "above and beyond the call of duty."
This isn't the first time the former congressman has been outspoken in his opposition to the war and the Bush administration's handling of it.
In a February interview with The Associated Press, Strickland initially said he was not inclined to accommodate any Iraqi refugees in Ohio because doing so would help bail out the president. He later said he meant only to express frustration with the Bush administration and the war, not to turn away Iraqi refugees in need.
The administration's plan calls for about 7,000 Iraqi refugees to be settled in the U.S. over the next year.