NOTE: These opinions are mine, and mine alone. Nothing I express is the position of anyone but me, and certainly not a representation of the opinions of anyone in any part of the US Armed forces in any official capacity.
That said, I need to provide a short background of my experiences with deployment. I will endeavor to keep this short and to the point...
1993 - I was called up for three weeks of State Active Duty with the Illinois Army National Guard to assist in relief efforts with the Mississippi flooding in July of that year.
1997 - I was called up out of the Army Reserve for 8 months in support of Operation Joint Guard/Joint Endeavor [Bosnia]
2004-2005 - I was called up with the 33rd Area Support Group of the Illinois Army National Guard for a total of 15 months active duty (12 months in Afghanistan) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
1993 was classic National Guard work. Sandbagging, running for my life through a cornfield when the levee near Nutwood, IL breached, and helping municipal authorities in overwhelmed Alton, IL.
1997 was purely a result of the Army being sold a raft of crap. The regulars were quite blunt in telling us the reason we Reservists were called up and sent (in my case to the 21st TAACOM). Quite simply, the Army had been assured that if they could just make it 9-12 months, the whole thing would end and the boys would be home by Christmas. I stepped off a C-130 at Sarajevo Aerodrom 18 months to the day from when the President had said we would be gone from Bosnia...We were also quite unsettled by what we were asked to do. It was quite a break from our normal mission. But we managed to get the job done, even if it was years too long in seeing the Europeans take the job on fully.
2004-2005 was the other side of the classic Guard mission. Support in time of war. The war was a bit odd, having entered the "post-Taliban ouster" phase, (less than stand-up conventional fighting) but was still normal enough (if darned exotic to me, personally speaking).
2005 was almost a reprise of 1993, except that it was a huge amount of National Guard, from many places - alongside active component soldiers, the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard. I see why the Navy was involved. The Coast Guard was a natural too. In fact, if anyone has been slighted in the whole Katrina relief effort, it has been the United States Coast Guard. The Coasties were saving people before anyone realized there was a major problem. They saved thousands and did not receive even a tiny fraction of the credit they were due. It was easier for the press to follow the 82nd Airborne around New Orleans.
I am still shuddering about the 82nd being brought into this effort. I happen to be a big fan of Posse Comitatus, and I am still waiting for someone to give me a good reason for heaving it aside - and not simply because one State of the Union wet its pants at crunch time. Why is Florida able to avoid folding like a broken cot everytime a hurricane slams ashore? Why should North Carolina have it's sovereignty flushed down the hopper whenever a tropical depression forms? You can get all the Federal help you can handle if you just ask for it. Also, I didn't hear of a single governor refusing Louisiana's call for help - EMACs (assistance compacts between states) were flying off the fax machines in every state capital. Wars aside, there are still a few hundred thousand Army and Air Guard available for such a call...
I thank you for putting up with this. This has been boiling up for a bit - especially since about week two of this last deployment. I will cover that tomorrow.