Louisiana National Guard troops watch Katrina from Iraq

More than 3,000 members of the Louisiana National Guard’s 256th Brigade serving in Iraq can only watch from Baghdad as Hurricane Katrina bears down on their families and homes in New Orleans and the other south Louisiana communities from which they hail. The deployed soldiers and their equipment, which includes high water vehicles, Humvees and generators, will be sorely missed as Louisiana attempts to prepare for and recover from the historic Category Five storm.

The soldiers of the 256th are due home in October, assuming their tour isn’t extended to beef up US troop levels in Iraq for the October constitutional referendum and December general elections. Mississippi and Alabama, the other states under threat from Katrina’s second assault on the Gulf Coast, also have Guard contingents in Iraq, with 3,500 troops of Mississippi’s 155th Brigade Combat Team serving near Karbala and Najaf, while 140 Alabama Guard troops left last Sunday for training preparatory to joining some 2,000 Alabama troops already deployed overseas.

Governors throughout the country have watched anxiously as the Guard units they count on to see their states through natural disasters have been called up for service in Iraq, in many cases leaving behind tanks and other heavy armor while taking with them the kinds of equipment that are most valuable in coping with the aftermath of storms, floods and earthquakes.

President Bush has already created one Gulf wasteland. In a few days he’ll be offering condolences to the residents of another; one he didn’t create, only stripped of its guardians in service of something he can’t even define.

45 thoughts on “Louisiana National Guard troops watch Katrina from Iraq”

  1. President Bush (if he has respect enough to be called President) should see what he has done to my state. Takes fellow people my age and older and puts them in a dead country. He should have left them here to do what they are hired to do. Defend Our country, not go to a country where obviously we are being killed. Bring them back to help us protect and server Our country where they are needed. Home, to help their loved ones and friends get through possibly the worst storm of the year. They would rather be here helping with the storm than being in danger in a foreign land where We are not wanted.

  2. There are 10,000 sitting ducks in the Superdome. These people should have been evacuated by the National Guard. Most are the poor without means to leave the city on their own. I am so angry.

  3. They would be sitting ducks IF Katrina were a category 5 storm…but she isn’t. I wonder how many times they can hype storms like this before people quit taking them seriously. I mean, better safe than sorry and it will be a relief if the catastrophe doesn’t happen, but if you listen you hear (and read) it reported that the winds were a steady 60 mph, not the category 5 level they were *predictiing.*

    Gee, Bush gets almost another trifecta…a distraction from the Cindy Sheehan-vacation showdown, AN EXCUSE FOR EVEN MORE RAISED OIL PRICES, and, if Katrina does destroy New Orleans, he gets to be a Disaster President and tour a devastated area giving “comfort.”

    You know none of the TV stations will ask why our National Guard is overseas…or mention that Bush has cut hurricane aid.

  4. Bush has also cut the funding for the Louisiana Army Corps of Engineers in a big way:


    Funny how there’s $300 billion available to build roads but they can’t spare a measly $50 million to keep New Orleans dry. Let’s hope some of the construction workers building that $260 million bridge in Alaska connecting the island of 80 inhabitants to the closest town of 5,000 come from Loisiana. Or wait, does that one go to Helliburton as well?

  5. my sympathy goes out to the people of the state of Louisiana. My outrage is directed at the voters, who after the Florida voting debacle and inappropriate Supreme Court decision, re-elected a person who calls himself a “compassionate conservative.” Yet ignores the fact that homeland security begins exactly here in the United Sates.
    Congratulations folks it is now homeland insecurity.

  6. Isn’t ironic that during the Vietnam War, Bush hid out in the Guard sparing himself from actual combat, but turns around and sends the Guard overseas during his self-made, self-prophesizing war of choice?

  7. The pathetic irony of it all! The “National Guard” dying in Iraq while they are desperately needed at home in Louisiana to help battle this storm. Bush and his cronies prove their worthless vision again, day after day.

  8. Oh, I doubt Bush will actually “tour” the devastation, except by helicopter, where he doesn’t have to face real people. Maybe they’ll dig up a few Bushbots and stick them in a church auditorium to cheer him and accept a few dry kisses. “Free water and food for Republicans, this way.”

  9. high water vehicles

    You never know when the Euphrates will flood, eh?

  10. This is just what Bush was praying for. It takes attention away from Cindy Sheehan and the bad news from Iraq and puts it on something non-political. As bad as the situation is here, the people of this country should keep their attention focused on Iraq. Too bad some of the money we’ve thrown away in Iraq wasn’t spent on helping the people of the US. Once again, Bush has proven himself to be the master of disaster.

  11. until we get paper ballots dems cant win..I live in ohio where bush got 93.000.00 more votes than were registered people Diebold is hacking for repuds and has been since 2000//Put signs in cars, call congress newspapers, they are in control and will not investigate..make noise..are republicans afraid they cant win an honest election with paper ballots..I think so.

  12. I’m glad that the hurricane eased up a little, but nevertheless, my heart goes out to all those in NOLA (as well as along the Gulf Coast). I made a contribution to the Red Cross National Emergency Fund, that I hope gets to you guys & hope others do too. One of the first things I noticed when I started seeing location shoots of weather reporters (besides whitecaps on the river behind them), was National Guard foootage. I wondered how that was going to work out, as so many National Guard have been sent to Iraq.

    So I hope that NOLA can weather this (am quite certain it will), and it’ll be nice if the Gulf receives the same sort of emergency appropriation from the feds that Florida did, even if it’s not a national election.


  13. American citizens are at fault. Their apathy and lazyness created this mass of religious nuts who elected Bush who thinks he is doing the work of God and is ruining this country. The US is the only advanced country where the lunacy of religious fundamentalism is so widespread. As the founding fathers said, we can’t expect much from theocracy.

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  15. Robin – what are you talking about – hyope- we are sitting here in a decimated state – with a city 80% underwater and if the levedd cannot be repaired tomorrow with 9 more feet of water – yes the poor people in the superdome are sitting ducks which is why we are going to mount a massive rescue message for them

    For your information this is the worst natural disaster that has ever occurred in the US.

    We in Louisiana elected a wonderful Democrat Governon and Governor Blanco has shown what she is made or. She is great.

  16. And although bush took many of our guard troops – they are all over as part of the search and resuce effort and protecting us. Wish they were all here.

  17. Yes it bothers us watching our people strgggling on rooftops our clinging to trees waiting to be picked up by Helocopters or boats. We can only cry in fustration knowing we can’t even call to know our families and friends fate. It also angers us now while we have faught and watched comrades die in this stinking hell hole. Millions being spent on projects. A new HQ for the Iraqi Highway Patrol, Police Academies, NCO training facilities for their army. Well I don’t see any arab nation steping up, (Suadi Aradia) giving us any aid. (No extra oil coming our way to help until facilities come back on line in Louisiana. Some Iraqi’s have openly stated we are feeling Allah’s rage. GO TO HELL. We need to take care of our own first. Once we leave everything we have fought and died for here will not make a bit of difference in Iraq our among the arab nations. Right now we need to be heading back to Louisiana to help and protect OUR OWN.


  19. For all you red state people who voted for Bush and now have your National Guard deployed to Iraq: God help you if you suffer a natual disaster in your state, because you are So screwed. “What, Me Worry” Dubya doesn’t give a shit about you. For you who voted for this f*cking idiot, combat deserter and murderer, I hope you feel ashamed, as you should!

  20. For what it’s worth, New Orleans did not vote for Bush, the rest of LA did. Think of New Orleans as a Blue city in a Red state.

  21. Pal: I am also in Ohio, where I saw Kerry people registering illegal votes, falsifying applications and intimidating voters. Why was it areas under Democrat control that were unprepared for last year’s election? Don’t blame Diebold, blame your incompetent party.

    To the main topic…there are more than enough Guardsmen still in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi, but they can’t get around in 20 feet of water with live electical wires and leaking gas mains without being endangered.

  22. Perhaps this disaster will be what opens Americans eyes to what a dangerous president Bush really is.

  23. nobody wakes up until a thing is in their lap.
    WAKE UP AMERICA! make a list of what’s gotten better, and another list of what’s gotten worse in this country for the last 5 years, then take your lists to the voting places. Start with your LOCAL choices (they add up), then get off your tushies and make a difference in 2008!

  24. Matt: There are nowhere near enough rescue and security personnel in the affected areas. There might not be enough even with the addition of the 10,000 troops in Iraq, but they sure would help.

  25. To All the people that can sit back and give their opinions, how many of them are there trying to save people. Also rescue efforts had to be suspended due to the low life’s of the city that were shooting at the very people in Helo. that were trying to save others. If you are so strong in your beleifs, go there and help. How many of the ones flapping their gumbs even served in service. As for as the comment about the money poured into Florida, I have survived 5 storms in less than a year. AS of this date I have not seen any of the massive “gov. money” that was eluded to have been sent to the state.

  26. Venezuelan National Guard will come help us out. Afterall, we’re in they’re sphere of influence.

    Where’s George? Needs to rest and refresh, so Crawford probably…oh wait…Sheehan. Damn it. Ya’ll can just spend $3.00 a gallon on gas for this kind of disrespect. Viva Texas and her loyal American protectorates.

  27. Amen to Comment 33 by Ret.Msg.Wooten. It was only a matter of time before you pathetic demos blamed this natural disaster on the President. I grew up in Louisiana. We need to do everything we can to help those people survive. But what most of you don’t understand is that New Orleans has two major industries – Tourism an WELFARE. The vast majority of people who stayed in the area have been living hand to mouth for generations. The author may want to blame the president for these problems but the New Deal is what caused the state of dependancy that exists down there today. Let’s bail them out one more time and maybe one day we’ll wise up.

    God Bless our Troops overseas. I support you. I thank you. I believe in your mission.

  28. What is Homeland Security for, if not for a situation like Katrina ? Where is everyone ? I thought they were formed for just such a catastrophic situation. I’d say by looking at Louisiana, this country is in pretty rough shape. Why doesn’t someone come right out and say to the President all of the things that have been said here. I am really afraid that as an American there are not enough troups or law enforcement left to protect us. We have been left dangerously short of personnel and equipment and funds here at home. That is not fair. Iraq seems to be more important than the lives of Americans . This thing is being handled horribly….Someone needs to find out and get someone in charge of disaster relief who knows what to do and can get it done…someone who doesn’t care whose toes they step on to do it…..This is just plain wrong…
    I never thought I would ever see the day Americans were treated the way this is unfolding on TV. These people need help…..How many Guard did the Governor call up ? Did the Governor get what was asked for ? Or did someone deny their requests because there weren’t enough guards left here to help. Hello……is anybody there who can find out why this is happening?

  29. What is wrong with Bush? Offers of help are flooding in, from all over the world, and he says We are strong, we will recover , we don’t need help. People are dying in front of his eyes!! They are yelling for help!! His priorities are not in the right place!!!

  30. This is for all of you who are freaking out about the La Nat’l Guard being deployed in Iraq. First- we must support our presedent. Second- we have just finished an 18 month deployment and the worst thing is that we had to watch hurricane katrina devistate southern La. Now they are wanting to redeploy us to New Orleans, right when we are coming home, to be away from our families yet again. All we want to do is go home and finally see our families and take care of our own problems. There are plenty troops deployed to New Orleans to assist. One more thing, if La had a good governer, not Blanco, then we might have had some kind of plan in place to help those in need.

  31. this is not govt. ov the people,by the people.for the people.it is govt. for the rich and this white house is showing where all the help is going and the hell with the working people.

  32. It is sad to read all the stuff I am reading, it is not President Bush’s faught that the city of New Orleans put money into the new basketball team from Charlotte and not into the levees that obviously needed repaired. If anyone is to blame it would be the leaders of New Orleans for not maintaining their levees. I am tired of hearing that we are fighting a war that is a waste, if we stabilize Iraq it will start from there and work its way across the middle east and killing the terrorist system inwhich it survives because of the weak government in place now. God Bless the US and the world!

  33. According to 9230.1-PL, the Federal Response Plan (and it is pretty close in line with many other response plans):

    Page 22, Section II: Authorities, Section A

    3. No direct Federal assistance is authorized prior to a Presidential declaration. However, DHS can use limited predeclaration authorities to move Initial Response Resources (IRR) (critical goods typically needed in the immediate aftermath of a disaster (e.g., food, water, emergency generators) and emergency teams closer to potentially affected areas. DHS also can activate essential command and control structures to lessen or avert the effects of a disaster and to improve the timeliness of disaster operations. Additionally, when an incident poses a threat to life and property that cannot be effectively dealt with by the State or local governments, DHS may request the Department of Defense (DOD) to use its resources prior to a declaration to perform any emergency work “essential for the preservation of life and property” under the Stafford Act.”

    State and local governments didn’t realize the extent of the disaster (although they should have foreseen it, because there were articles in this LA newspaper this year about it) and prepared for it by requesting troops on hand ahead of time (before the hurricane hit).

    Stop piling on the President, making it a race issue, or using it as an excuse to criticize foreign policies.

    Nobody has mentioned the LA governer’s name, and they are the point man for disasters, because the President should be overseeing events in four states that were hit (as well as handling a national economic and fuel crisis).

    And incidentally, this Mayor Nagin is no Guilliani. He is not wise, nor is he stable. Guilliana kept his head after his state was hit hard. Nagin just rails about drug problems.

    Stop whining and expecting the President to come and wipe your butts. Man up, evaluate the extent of the emergency, get fast response survey teams out to evaluate both survivor needs and loss of resource, and request what you need from the government (in actual terms, not ‘we need ALL the Greyhound busses in America’).

    I don’t want my President focussing on this issue for long. I want the governer of LA doing that. I want my President running all 50 states. Not just one.

  34. Robert: New Mexico governor Bill Richardson offered his National Guard to Blanco on Sunday. She accepted, but the deployment wasn’t authorized by DHS until Thursday. And if you look at the DHS web site, you’ll find this:

    In the event of a terrorist attack, natural disaster or other large-scale emergency, the Department of Homeland Security will assume primary responsibility on March 1st for ensuring that emergency response professionals are prepared for any situation. This will entail providing a coordinated, comprehensive federal response to any large-scale crisis and mounting a swift and effective recovery effort.

    Giulliani’s city wasn’t wiped out, and he had enormous federal resources at his disposal almost immediately. Nagin didn’t have that luxury. He and Blanco could both have done much better, but the administration has been grossly incompetent.

    It’s very possible you’ll get your wish regarding your president, given his attention span. I doubt that’ll be a good thing.

  35. they were given 72 hours- 3 days- to evacuate, and they decided to stay. Now people are screaming that the government isn’t giving them anything.
    The government isnt your daddy and doesnt owe you jack. If your babies are hungry and you have nowhere to sleep, it is your own damn fault and you have no one to blame beside your own lazy asses. You are in dire need because you put yourself there and you deserve it.

  36. First of all… not only are you one of the dumbest people I’ve met, but your comment makes me laugh harder than anything …The government is supposed to be our daddy… in situations like this.. it is the governments duty to do whatever it can in its power to successfully aid everyone in unfortunate situations. Especially when our own money is going towards organizations such as FEMA ..for specific conditions that are NOT IN THE HANDS OF THE PEOPLE. For you to even say …”it is your own damn fault and you have no one to blame beside your own lazy asses…… and you deserve it” just adds to the fact that it is because of idiots like you that a dumbass 4th grader was elected as our president.

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