Now if the thesis of this bill is that we all need National Guard units within a couple hours' drive (gotta include time to get the soldiers together, haul gear out of the armory, etc.) for quick response to emergencies, then o.k., let's have that conversation.
Leaders in Lemmon, where the National Guard plans to close an armory, do nod toward that argument. Their primary concern, however, appears to be money:
"The arguments the governor made to keep Ellsworth (Air Force Base) open are the same arguments we're making to keep the Guard in Lemmon," said Mike Schweitzer, KBJM-AM owner and a Perkins County commissioner.
Not having the Guard unit based in Lemmon will hurt the town's economy just as it's been on an upswing, in part because of young people moving back, town leaders said.
"I think Lemmon has turned the corner," said Shane Penfield, city attorney and Perkins County state's attorney, who moved his family from Rapid City.
"We're not going to ignore the fact that we've got a demographic issue," he said. "But help us" [Carson Walker, "Lemmon Leaders Trying to Reverse Armory Closure," AP via Rapid City Journal, 2009.02.06].
Even conservative Lemmon loves government when it brings money to town (as does Governor Rounds).
Problem is, the National Guard says moving the 842nd Engineer Company from Lemmon to the Black Hills actually improves its readiness:
"By consolidating our units to geographically centralized locations versus having them out in these smaller towns, the National Guard leaders are going to be able to maximize resources and training capabilities," said Maj. Brendan Murphy, Guard spokesman.
"And this is going to help the National Guard remain ready in both crisis or disasters. Another thing, too, is it really makes better use of the taxpayer dollars" [Walker, 2009.02.06].
Beware the military-industrial complex, President Eisenhower said. Base your economy on military spending, and you end up muddling your missions. The National Guard exists to protect citizens from natural disasters, Cuban paratroopers, and other perils. If Lemmon can make the argument that they need a Guard presence to keep them safe (from what, civil disorder at Boss Cowman Days?), then move those engineers back to the Lemmon armory. But if the best argument Lemmon boosters can make is that they need the money, well, that's just not the Guard's mission.