The National Guard’s response to the Hell Fires in California, in addition to Katrina and Rita, were adversely affected by the loss of equipment taken from the Guard (and Reserves) by the Pentagon when their troops returned from the battle fronts in the Middle East. By contrast, Regular forces returned with their equipment. This policy of stripping the Guard and Reserves of their equipment, along with BRAC, and other policies is intended to disarm the Guard and Reserves and Transform them into individual replacements for the Regular (Active) forces under the program called “Transformation”.
This policy started shortly after Desert Storm and the realization that the expertise of the Guard and Reserves was as good as those on Active service, and in many cases, far superior and at one sixth the cost of maintaining them. Additionally in the years leading up to Desert Storm, all the units and activities dealing with higher levels of command such as Corps, Field Army, and Theater were being concentrated in the Guard and Reserves and was being exercised in large multi-service and multi-component command post exercises. The corollary of this was the loss of such expertise on Active Service.
The realization that Week End Warriors could fight struck directly at the Pentagon’s groin, hence heart and mind. The Army’s response, similar to other services, was to abolish the concept of levels above brigade pending a notional force called UA(X) intended to replace both corps and division. This, of course, didn’t sit well with the Generals in command of those units, so their headquarters have been retained and earning their keep trying to make sense out of the senseless mess created by Transformation, And this all in the face of enemy fire.
These policies are in accordance with the last two Quadrennial Defense Reviews (QDR)in spite of the development of new doctrine for Counter Insurgency (FM 3-24) and Peace Operations (JO 3-07.3) which rejects the concept of Rotational warfare by requiring Unity of Command and Perseverance to achieve national objectives. The Transformational notion of warfare is to raid and run. Other forms of war require sustained and consistent effort.
The Guard’s traditional role in National Defense is as the Nation’s default military force and is the only force guaranteed to exist by the Constitution, in the Second Amendment. All other forces exist at the will of Congress, that includes the Navy and Marine Corps. The Navy is, per the Constitution, is the only force authorized to maintain ships of war in times of peace. The Defense of the Continental US can be performed entirely by the Guard and a Navy big enough to guard the approaches to our shores and our trading sea and air lines of communication.
Any else, must be justified by extant threats from abroad, and based where those threats can be most effectively dealt with. Inasmuch as Transformation dismisses “Threat Based” planning in favor of “Capabilities or Effects based” planning, we are wrapped in a fantasy that ignores contingency planning. Such forces that are being brought back from foreign stations, then are not needed, and the equipment and missions be transferred to the Guard and Reserves.
How better to guard our own borders and skies that has been the Guard and Reserves mission since the Fifties? I hold to the Pet Rock Theory of economics. Demand creates value. The manufacturing of Pet Rocks only creates value, jobs, taxes, and wealth only so long as people demand Pet Rocks. The same applies to the Bass Sax of the Fifties for the Bass Guitar of the Seventies, or Tap Dancing. Or Colorado shoreline property, or dry land in Florida, or Dutch Tulip Bulbs. About the only thing that retains it's value regardless of time, place, culture, or the economy is a good piece of ass.