JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Despite ever-present threats from hurricanes, floods and other natural disasters, Florida ranks last in the ratio of Army National Guard troops to civilian residents.
Numbers provided to The Florida Times-Union by the Florida Army National Guard show there are 10.3 guardsmen per every 100,000 civilians in the state.
The newspaper reported Saturday that Florida Army National Guard leaders are worried about the low numbers. The state's adjutant general said his forces are already stretched thin and that budget cuts could make the situation worse.
"I'm deeply concerned," said Maj. Gen. Emmett Titshaw. "During the hurricanes we had in 2004 and 2005, we pretty much used up everything we had then, and we had more than we have now."
Titshaw said calling in units from other states as reinforcement isn't always the best option.
"Say a hurricane is bearing down on Daytona Beach from the Atlantic Ocean," he said. "Georgia is not going to give up their assets to help us because that storm could turn and impact Georgia."
Florida would then be forced to look for help from farther away, and that takes time, he said.
At a meeting of the nation's governors with President Obama on Monday, 47 governors gave the president a letter opposing further cuts to National Guard forces.
Lt. Col. James Evans, spokesman for the Florida National Guard, said the allocation of troops hasn't kept pace with the nation's shifting demographics.
Additional resources for the Florida National Guard most likely would come at the expense of another state, he said. And, Evans said, other states are not likely to give up their resources regardless of Florida's needs.
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