(Host) Adjutant General Michael Dubie says there are no indications that Vermont National Guard units will be called into action as part of President Bush’s plan to increase the number of troops in Iraq.
Dubie told lawmakers that roughly 100 Guard soldiers are currently serving in the war zone- that’s down from almost one-thousand a year ago.
VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:
(Kinzel) General Dubie said he came to the Statehouse to informally address members of the House as a way to thank lawmakers for their ongoing support of the Vermont National Guard.
Dubie stood in the well of the House to give legislators an update on the condition of the Guard.
(Dubie) “The status of the Vermont National Guard is strong. We’re doing well in very challenging times. Operationally we’re ready to respond at a moment’s notice in our state mission to the governor first responders in any type of homeland security or homeland defense scenario.”
(Kinzel) Dubie says it’s also good news that the number of Vermont Guard soldiers serving in Iraq has declined dramatically over the past 12 months:
(Dubie) “A snapshot of today – we have about a little over 100 people in the war zone today, that’s Iraq and Afghanistan. We have 16 more going to Afghanistan in about a week. In less than a year ago we had a 1000 in Iraq alone. So the fact that we’ve brought so many home is a great thing.”
(Kinzel) On Wednesday night President Bush is expected to announce a plan to increase the number of combat troops in Iraq. Initial reports indicate many of these additional troops will be supplied by extending the tour of duty of soldiers currently serving in the war zone.
Dubie says he hasn’t received any advance notification of the President’s policy, but he says at this time, there’s no indication that there will be an unscheduled deployment of Vermont soldiers.
(Dubie) “We don’t know what’s coming in the next 24 hours maybe, with whatever the president may announce. We don’t know what impact he may announce may trickle down to Vermont. Right now we have no major deployments on the Army side on the schedule.”
(Kinzel) Dubie told lawmakers that one of the biggest challenges facing the Vermont National Guard is helping soldiers, who served in Iraq, deal with some serious issues once they’ve returned home.
(Dubie) “We have people who are having problems. That’s where some of the money you supplied is coming in to help us out. Post traumatic stress disorder, ptsd, is real. It’s not a debilitating thing as long as you realize it. And some of that money that you allocated is helping us deal with ptsd.”
(Kinzel) Dubie says there is a scheduled deployment of several hundred Air Guard soldiers to the war zone this summer. He says the group will provide air support to other troops in the region.
For Vermont Public Radio I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier