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Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Instead of getting fired on in Baghdad...

...The "two-weeks-a-year" folks could be putting out fires, running cities, guarding prisoners, and more back home. The governors, even some Repugs, are getting restless. I wonder if they're reassured that Bush intends to keep the National Guard troops in Iraq indefinitely, and Kerry thinks he'll keep them there longer than Bush?
Much of the concern has focused on wildfires, which have started to destroy vast sections of forests in several Western states. The governor of Oregon, Ted Kulongoski, a Democrat, said in an interview after meetings here Monday that the troop deployment had left his National Guard with half the usual number of firefighters because about 400 of them were overseas while a hot, dry summer was already producing significant fires in his state.

"We're praying a lot that a major fire does not break out," he said. "It has been dry out here, the snow pack's gone because of an extremely warm May and June and the fire season came earlier."

He added, "You're just going to have fires and if you do not have the personnel to put them out, they can grow very quickly into ultimately catastrophic fires.''

Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, a Republican of Idaho and departing chairman of the National Governors Association, also said through a spokesman that he was worried about the deployment of 2,000 members, or 62 percent of his National Guard, who are now training in Texas for a mission in Iraq.

"In the past we've been able to call on the National Guard," said Mark Snider, a spokesman for the governor. "We may not be able to call on these soldiers for firefighting capabilities."