In the midst of recent fires that swept California, President Bush pointed proudly to Republican Governor Arnold Schwarezenegger as an example of how tragedies could be avoided with proper leadership, a dig obviously directed toward the Democratic governor of Louisiana’s performance during the Hurricane Katrina fiasco. It now appears the Republican governor made numerous mistakes, as did the military, in providing assistance to those fighting fires. After 2003 fires, a commission set up by Governor Schwarzenegger urged purchasing more planes and working in close coordination with military air borne capabilities. The Associated Press reported that Marine, Navy and National Guard air planes and helicopters were not all available due to lack of personnel needed for use in getting the planes into the air. Two National Guard cargo planes lacked the right equipment to make them effective in fighting fires. After insisting for four days that winds were responsible for failure to get the planes airborne, the Republican governor then blamed lack of Forest Park spotters.
US Agriculture Deputy, Mark Rey, who oversees the Forest Park Rangers says the lack of equipment is “probably something we have to look into.” One can only wonder how diversion of planes and personnel to fight in Iraq was a factor in lack of personnel and equipment in the California fire fighting fiasco. It is clear, the governor’s own commission urged purchase of additional planes, but this was not done.