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Mississippi troops are refused leave to help families


September 11th, 2005 3:25 pm
Mississippi troops are refused leave to help families

By Ellen Knickmeyer / The Washington Post (Registration required)

Scores of Mississippi National Guard troops in Iraq who lost their homes to Hurricane Katrina have been refused even 15-day leaves to aid their displaced families, told by commanders that there were too few U.S. troops in Iraq to spare them, according to members of the Mississippi Guard.

About 600 members of the Mississippi Guard's 155th Brigade Combat Team, posted south of Baghdad in the area known as the "Triangle of Death" for the frequency of insurgent attacks, live in the parts of southern Mississippi and southeast Louisiana hit hardest by Katrina, Maj. Neil F. Murphy Jr., a spokesman with the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force, said by e-mail Saturday. The brigade is attached to the Expeditionary Force.

Guard members and relatives said in e-mail or telephone interviews that virtually all the approximately 300 soldiers of 155th Brigade's B and C companies had their homes destroyed or severely damaged in the hurricane.

Eighty Mississippi Guard members have been granted emergency leave, Murphy said.

The rest have been refused leave, told by their brigade command that all other forward operating bases "are tapped out and cannot send troops," one Mississippi Guard member wrote in an e-mail that was shared by a family member, with his permission, on condition of anonymity.

"All I know is that we are combat-ineffective due to the problems at home," wrote the Guard member, whose wife and young child escaped before their apartment building was washed away.

Another member of the 155th wrote, "We are not trying to weasel our way home, we just need to help our loved ones."

In an e-mail, Lt. Col. William Glasgow, the brigade combat team's executive officer, said that "soldiers who have been most affected by Hurricane Katrina will be allowed to return home on a 15-day emergency leave."

The 80 soldiers granted leave will leave their bases "over the next 2-3 days," Glasgow wrote.

About 78,000 National Guard troops are overseas, most of them in Iraq. Forty percent of the Mississippi National Guard's forces are in Iraq, including the 3,500 in the brigade combat team.

In Baghdad, the 2,500 Louisiana National Guard members in Iraq this week began moving to Kuwait, on their way home after finishing their tours of duty. But the units from Mississippi, which include support and engineering units that normally would be used in disasters such as Katrina, have not completed their tours.

Murphy, the Marine spokesman, wrote, "We believe that the balance has been established to effectively manage both situations" in Iraq and at home. "We've been told that those that need to go home have been granted leave or are in the process of doing so." He wrote late Saturday that he is still investigating whether commanders had told Guard members that there were too few troops in Iraq to let them return.

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Michael Moore has a link to Sen. Boxer's PAC which has this petition which goes straight to the White House on the shameful treatment of our National Guard members affected by the bush-made Katrina tragedy.

http://ga4.org/campaign/katrina/

Responding to Hurricane Katrina

The devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina across the Gulf Coast has takenthousands of lives and caused billions of dollars of property damage. Unfortunately, the absence of thousands of our National Guard forces currently stationed in Iraq has served only to exacerbate the severity of the situation.

More than 7,000 members of the National Guard from these two states are in Iraq right now. Their presence in their home states at the time of the hurricane would have allowed them to help with the relief efforts, potentially saving hundreds or even thousands of lives.

As Commander-in-Chief, the President has a responsibility to allow members of the National Guard from these states to return to their homes, where they can assist in rebuilding efforts, particularly since many of them have family or homes in the affected areas.

Please send an email to President Bush now, urging him to allow National Guard troops from the Gulf Coast currently stationed in Iraq to return to their homes and families and assist in the relief effort.

The devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina across the Gulf Coast has taken thousands of lives and caused billions of dollars of property damage. Unfortunately, the absence of thousands of our National Guard forces, currently stationed in Iraq, has served only to exacerbate the severity of the situation.

More than 7,000 members of the National Guard from Mississippi and Louisiana are in Iraq right now. Their presence in their home states at the time of the hurricane would have allowed them to help with the relief efforts, potentially saving hundreds or even thousands of lives.

As Commander-in-Chief, you have a responsibility to allow members of the National Guard from these states to return to their homes, where they can assist in rebuilding efforts, particularly since many of them have family or homes in the affected areas.

I urge you to bring home the National Guard troops from Mississippi and Lousiana today

Sending your message to:
President George W. Bush via email at comments@whitehouse.gov

Please assist the 155th Mississippi National Guard in the following way by notifying your representatives of the following information and demanding that it be corrected...

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour sent a request that the Mississippi National Guard's 155th Infantry Brigade be relieved of their duty in Iraq and allowed to return home to assist in their home state in it's time of need. However the commanding authority, General Collins (who is at home in Mississippi) said that it is not necessary. The 4th
Infantry Division is already in place in Iraq and has offered to relieve the 155th immediately, but General Collins has refused the offer.

Morale is deteriorating quickly among the 155th in Iskandariyah, Iraq because of this situation. It is not a good situation for anyone. Many families & friends are displaced, still missing or living in a disaster area back home in Mississippi or wherever they could find shelter. These men of the 155th have served their country well in Iraq for the past 9 months and already lost many of their own there i the area know as 'The Triangle of Death". They are not asking to be discharged from their duty in the National Guard. They just want to return to their own state of Mississippi to assist at this terrible time in it's history just as the Louisiana's 256th Infantry Brigade has already been allowed to do in Louisiana.

Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss., whose waterfront home here was washed away in the storm, told reporters that the absence of the deployed Mississippi Guard units made it harder for local officials to coordinate their initial response.

"What you lost was a lot of local knowledge," Taylor said, as well as equipment that could have been used in recovery operations.

I want to know WHY General Collins thinks these men are not needed at home. Don't you? Please let your voice be heard by email or phone calls to your those in the Government who are there to represent us. Mississippi needs us all to contact our congressmen and others to help in this matter

The land where the Mississippi National Guard has their homes has become very valuable since Katrina as Barber has announced the plans to move the casinos on land . Naturally, they will be much larger and need lots of land. The less the clean up right now, the better for the gambling industry. And confusion over home ownership and what condition the homes are in will only help eminent domain takeover.

The land where the Mississippi National Guard has their homes has become very valuable since Katrina as Barber has announced the plans to move the casinos on land . Naturally, they will be much larger and need lots of land. The less the clean up right now, the better for the gambling industry. And confusion over home ownership and what condition the homes are in will only help eminent domain takeover.

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