The problem with the fires in California is the war in Iraq?:
California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer complained on Capitol Hill Tuesday that the ability of the state’s National Guard to respond to disasters like the fires has been compromised because too much of its equipment and personnel are committed in Iraq.
Soldier’s Mom on Milblogs:
So, 20,000 NG members in CA…5,000 deployed…and the Governator as activated…
1,500… of 15,000 available…
Are there personnel and equipment in Iraq that might have otherwise helped in this situation? Of course. Has it made a big difference? Doesn’t seem terribly likely.
But Boxer won’t let that stop her.
UPDATE: I’m sure we’ll be hearing all about this from Senator Boxer: Seasonal firefighters laid off just before fires
A good chuck of the firefighting capability in California is provided by seasonal workers. Sometimes the fires don’t cooperate with budgets or schedules:
It’s not the first time that a huge fire has happened after the firefighters are sent home. The Paradise Fire, which killed two people and destroyed 221 homes, was in October 2003. The Cedar Fire, which killed 14 people and destroyed more than 250 houses and commercial buildings, started the same month and burned into November.
Want the seasonal firefighters in late October and in November? Either shift their schedules (running the risk of leaving early season fires uncovered) or expand their schedules (paying more to do so).
Or, I guess, you could just blame the war in Iraq even though only 10% of available National Guard personnel have been called.
UPDATE 2: Apparently the California NG is undermanned by 5,000 or 6,000. This means that there are only around 10,000 personnel available, not the 15,000 that I noted earlier.
Still, only a small number of troops have been called up so far. Nothing approaching the level where deployed troops would be missed terribly.