If only this were a fake headline.
Hundreds of soldiers from New York’s Army National Guard are unavailable to help in the Hurricane Sandy recovery effort — because they’ve been assigned to fight a fake disaster.
The troops are all due to leave tomorrow for a week-long exercise in Missouri known as “Vigilant Guard,” which tests the response of the soldiers to a mock earthquake in the Midwest. And that previously scheduled drill took precedence over the real-world catastrophe that struck the East Coast on Monday night, a source familiar with the hurricane response tells Danger Room.
Bureaucratically, it’s nearly impossible to redeploy hundreds of guardsmen at a moment’s notice, even at a moment when so many are in need. Troops from the New York Army National Guard’s 104th Military Police Battalion, the 1156th Engineer Company, and the 42nd Infantry Division’s headquarters — between 400 and 600 soldiers in all — are now poised to head to the middle of the country.
“At this point in time, we’re still sending our soldiers to Vigilant Guard,” confirms Eric Durr, a spokesman for the New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs.
The New York Army National Guard has about 10,600 troops in total. Of those, about 2,100 are either in, or are waiting for, basic training. Another 400 to 500 are medically unavailable. And an additional 3,500 troops from the 27th Brigade Combat Team are either just back from Afghanistan or still there. Which means that New York’s Army National Guard had, at most, 4,500 troops at its disposal — before the assignments to Vigilant Guard began. About 2,300 Army and Air National Guardsmen are currently deployed to the hurricane relief effort.
Hurricane Sandy has the most vicious storm system to hit the New York City area in nearly two centuries — a once-in-several-generations event that’s left millions without power and tens of thousands of people homeless. The exercise in Missouri, however, is the second such drill in a year and a half.
The fake Missourians trapped under fake debris tweeted a fake thank-you to those National Guard who didn’t risk their lives not saving the Sandy survivors in New York.
And everybody said, “Aw-w-w-w-w.”