Now here are four words you love to see in the same sentence: "appalling gap" and "homeland defense." Ann Scott Tyson of The Washington Post explains:
The U.S. military is not prepared to meet catastrophic threats at home, and it is suffering from an "appalling gap" in forces able to respond to chemical, biological and nuclear strikes on U.S. soil, according to a congressional commission report released yesterday.
The situation is rooted in severe readiness problems in National Guard and reserve forces, which would otherwise be well-suited to respond to domestic crises but lack sufficient personnel and training, as well as $48 billion in equipment because of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a report by the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves.
Guard readiness has continued to slide since last March, when the panel found that 88 percent of Army National Guard units were rated "not ready," said retired Marine Maj. Gen. Arnold L. Punaro, the commission chairman.
"We think there is an appalling gap in readiness for homeland defense, because it will be the Guard and reserve that have to respond for these things," he said in an interview, noting that the reserves are present in 3,000 U.S. communities. The commission, which was established in 2005, has 12 members, including several other former military officers.