Gov. Ralph DLG Torres recently followed up on his request to the National Guard Bureau to establish a National Guard unit in the CNMI, especially as additional support is needed in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
In an April 8, 2020, letter to Gen. Joseph L. Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau, Torres noted the importance of having a National Guard unit that can assist local first responders and deployed federal personnel in effectively responding to this pandemic, as well as future natural disasters.
“Many units of the National Guard are being called upon to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States and its territories. As demonstrated by those states and territories, having a National Guard that can go into action providing security and relief during this disaster is invaluable. Not only are other states and territories proving the value of having a National Guard, the situation in the CNMI proves it is a necessity,” Torres said.
The governor added that health and public safety personnel and resources are being stretched to the limit in the CNMI.
“The federal government and military have rendered assistance, and we are grateful for it. However, all of their resources had to be brought in and that took time. In the future, we may not have that time. Having a local force, responsive to local authorities, that can immediately go into action providing security and relief in the aftermath of a disaster, whether it be a typhoon or a pandemic, is a demonstrated need for the CNMI,” he wrote.
Torres concluded his letter by emphasizing the value to the United States of having a National Guard in the CNMI.
“Having a local National Guard could aid the U.S. military in its local maintenance and training activities during peace-time. Even more, given the strategic importance of the Western Pacific, a local National Guard on hand during national emergencies could provide a ready security force as well as perform other critical tasks for the military,” he said.
Torres first submitted his request to the National Guard Bureau on Oct. 19, 2019. As a result of the governor’s request, Lengyel visited Saipan last January and discussed the feasibility with Torres.
“We need the establishment of a National Guard unit in the CNMI in order to build local capacity to support disaster relief efforts and military mission assignments,” Torres said. (PR)