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Kentucky National Guard well-trained, well-prepared, lawmakers told

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FRANKFORT—Kentucky has 197 National Guard personnel currently deployed with the U.S. Army or U.S. Air Force, with future mobilizations planned for later this year and in 2018 and 2019, state lawmakers were told yesterday.

Kentucky Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Stephen R. Hogan, who is the head of the Kentucky Army and Air National Guard and Executive Director of the state Department of Military Affairs, told the Interim Joint Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection that most of those now mobilized are soldiers. The 207th Engineers out of Hazard and Jackson have 155 personnel deployed around the world, with 34 more from other groups and divisions also mobilized. Another 160 or more are planned to be mobilized starting this month through April 2019, he said.

But national defense is only part of the agency’s mission, said Hogan. Another part is responding to state needs.

“The citizen aspect of this is just as important as the military aspect of this,” he told lawmakers. That includes readiness for disaster including cyber or general terrorism, earthquake, snow or fire—including wildfires.

Rep. Rob Rothenburger, R-Shelbyville, asked Maj. Gen. Hogan about the Kentucky National Guard’s readiness to assist in time of fire or other natural disasters. Rothenburger recalled wildfires that ripped through areas of Eastern Kentucky and Tennessee in recent years. “Last year, Gatlinburg was extremely devastated by the catastrophe,” he said.

Maj. Gen. Hogan said the response to those fires was air-delivered buckets. His agency is ready to deliver that same response today, he said. Putting trained personnel on the ground, he added, would take 72 hours of preparation.

Ensuring Kentucky National Guard personnel are ready for any eventuality is key, Maj. Gen. Hogan explained. Soldiers must be physically fit and mentally able to confidently serve in the Kentucky National Guard—and they are.

“We are right now as physically adept as our active duty counterparts,” he told lawmakers.

Rep. Tom Burch, D-Louisville, complimented the National Guard’s dedication to training. Burch entered the U.S. Navy when he was 17 years old, and not with the best training, he explained. “We were trained the minute we were met with the conflict,” said Burch.

Today, Maj. Gen. Hogan said, soldiers and air personnel are given much more attention before they go into battle.

“The young soldiers in the active Army and active Air Force and the active force, they were trained on their systems and their apparatus … and how to manage the war fight,” he told Burch.

Maj. Gen. Hogan was awarded the committee’s Distinguished Veteran Award as he concluded his presentation. The committee created the program, said USAF Reserve Col. and the committee’s Co-Chair Rep. Tim Moore, R-Elizabethtown, to recognize that some Kentucky veterans “have risen to the level of being distinguished due to their lifelong commitment of serving both in and out of the military.”

We have made it clear “we stand with and behind those who are serving all of us in any kind of uniform capacity,” said Moore.

The award was presented by fellow committee Co-chair Sen. Albert Robinson, R-London, who chaired the meeting today.

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