ITWASSOOTED: General calls use of 152nd 'inexcusable'

Saturday, November 05, 2005

General calls use of 152nd 'inexcusable'

By DAVID HENCH, Portland Press Herald Writer

Copyright © 2005 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.

Maj. Gen. John "Bill" Libby, freshly returned from visiting his Maine Army National Guard troops in Iraq, called it "inexcusable" that the 152nd Maintenance Company is being used primarily as a security force.

"Three years in . . . it's inexcusable to have brought a maintenance company over there to do anything but maintenance," Libby said. "It's particularly galling to me when I strip myself of full-time mechanics and they get there and they're in a tower."

Libby, speaking with reporters Thursday, said switching assignments on the unit hurts his ability to recruit and retain soldiers for the Guard.

"They were frustrated by not being able to be mechanics . . . and I'll have a tough time convincing them to re-enlist," he said. That creates problems in an area that is already a challenge for the National Guard and regular army.

The state's top military official spent three days in Iraq, where he held a town meeting-style gathering with soldiers of the 152nd and traveled to southern and northern Iraq. The trip's purpose was to get a first-hand look at soldiers' living and work conditions and to make sure soldiers' training reflects the environment they are likely to be working in, he said.
if you don't comment no angel will gets its wings... 0