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Rumsfeld: Civil Relief Efforts Will Not Dilute Warfighting Capability

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 20, 2005 – The U.S. military is fully capable to fulfill all its responsibilities, including homeland defense and relief efforts, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a Pentagon news briefing today.

After deploying more than 50,000 National Guard troops to help with Hurricane Katrina recovery, Army Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, reported that there were still hundreds of thousands of troops available for deployment, Rumsfeld said.

The active-duty force also has capabilities to support relief efforts and sustain the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said.

"You can't do everything in the world, but you can do the things that you're organized and trained and equipped to do," Rumsfeld said.

Rebalancing the Army has caused a reliance on National Guard troops for the war in Iraq, Myers said, adding that the next rotation there will use more active-duty forces. Also, the number of National Guard tank and artillery units is being reduced, leaving room for units that are more relevant to homeland defense, he said.

Myers noted that re-enlistment and morale in the National Guard is at an all-time high, increasing readiness.

"We have a Guard force that has never been more ready to support whatever mission the country calls upon it for," he said. "This is a very effective force; they like to be called upon."

In preparation for the landfall of Hurricane Rita, the Defense Department is taking planning measures, anticipating the needs of state and local authorities, Myers said.

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Donald H. Rumsfeld
Gen. Richard B. Myers, USAF

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