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National Guard Official Admits Iraq Deployment Affected Katrina Response

HeadlineSep 12, 2005

Scores of members of the Mississippi National Guard stationed in Iraq have been denied 15-day leaves in order to help their displaced families. The commanders told them that there were too few U.S. troops in Iraq to spare them. 40 percent of Mississippi’s National Guard force and 35 percent of Louisiana’s is in Iraq. Meanwhile, for the first time, a high-ranking National Guard official has admitted that the Guard’s response to the hurricane was hindered by the high number of troops in Iraq. Lt. Gen. Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, told CNN that “arguably” a day or so of response time was lost due to the absence of the Guard troops in Iraq. He said, “Had that brigade been at home and not in Iraq, their expertise and capabilities could have been brought to bear.”

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