Menendez-Lautenberg Pass Amendment to Reduce Equipment Strain on National Guard and Reserve Units

Menendez-Lautenberg Pass Amendment to Reduce Equipment Strain on National Guard and Reserve Units

Senate unanimously approves measure charging Secretary Rumsfeld to produce plan to reduce significant equipment shortfalls of Guard, Reserves

Washington - The U.S. Senate today approved a measure, offered by Senators Robert Menendez and Frank R. Lautenberg, that aims to eventually reduce the strain placed on National Guard and Reserve units that are ordered to leave military equipment in Iraq and Afghanistan following deployments to those nations. The Senate voted unanimously to include an amendment in the Senate Defense Authorization bill that requires Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to produce a plan to replace Reserve Component equipment that has been diverted for use in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Every day we hear about the human toll this war is taking on our troops and their families, and now we see that our military equipment is being equally stretched", Menendez said. "Until our Guard and Reserve units have all the equipment needed for their mission, our Guardsmen and Reservists will be vulnerable, as will the American families who depend on them."

"The National Guard is responsible for protecting our communities during emergencies like Hurricane Katrina, and they must have the equipment they need", said Lautenberg. "Im proud to join Senator Menendez in winning Senate approval of this measure."

The Reserve Component continues to face severe equipment shortages. As recently as last October, the Government Accountability Office concluded in a report on National Guard readiness that the nondeployed Guard units here at home face significant equipment shortfalls not only because they have not been provided equipment at war-time levels, as required, but also because of the unexpectedly high demand for certain pieces of equipment that the Guard has been told to leave behind in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Menendez-Lautenberg amendment requires Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to submit to the relevant Congressional committees a plan to replace Reserve Component equipment that has been diverted for use in Iraq and Afghanistan. The measure also stipulates that this plan will identify equipment to be recapitalized or acquired to replace the diverted equipment, specify a schedule for recapitalizing or acquiring the diverted equipment, and specify funding required to replace the equipment transferred for use in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Senators voted unanimously to include the Menendez-Lautenberg measure in the Senate Defense of Defense Authorization bill. The U.S. Senate is expected to consider the full authorization bill later today.

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