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Bond: National Guard needs $38 billion

By Matt Sepic, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – Sen. Kit Bond says National Guard units around the country will need another $38 billion in funding over the next six years to make up a serious equipment shortfall.

The Missouri Republican says there are enough soldiers and airmen in the guard, but overseas deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere have taken a toll on equipment.

Bond says the problem was especially evident in 2005, when only one of three engineer battalions from Missouri was able to help with Hurricane Katrina recovery.

"The reason they could not respond - they would have responded - they were in great shape to respond, but they had no equipment," Bond said.

Bond also says the Guard needs its own four-star general at the Pentagon so it's on equal footing with the other armed forces. "When the decisions are made in the Pentagon, the active generals and admirals - the four stars who sit at the table - don't have anybody representing the Guard," he added.

Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois says his state's units, on average, have only about 35% of what they need.

Last month Bond and Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, of Vermont, introduced legislation that would make it tougher to federalize the Guard. Bond is the top-ranking Republican on the Intelligence Committee.