The Georgia Republican pleaded with the guard’s leaders to skip participation at the annual race because state-based troops were stressed by the oncoming sequester budget cuts and the need to be in global hotspots like Afghanistan and Bosnia.Awkward! As it was, at the time of that hearing, National Guard officials explained to Kingston that state, not federal, money was used when National Guard troops were deployed at things like the Boston Marathon. Now, he's kinda sorta walking it back, a little, since he can't just follow the lead of other Republicans in saying something generically positive about first responders:
“The Boston Marathon, we got to take a pass,” Kingston said last March during a House Appropriations Committee hearing on the National Guard’s budget.
In the interview Tuesday, Kingston explained that his concern a year ago was more about out-of-state guardsmen getting pulled in to work at the marathon or inauguration from other states. “What I’d ask still is what would be the reason out-of-state guards would go to a marathon or an inauguration of a governor and is that a weighted reason that’s higher than sending them to Afghanistan or a flood or a disaster?” he said.Maybe not. But last I heard, Massachusetts hadn't been blasted with any floods requiring massive National Guard deployments in the past week, and having added crowd control at a major public event isn't like some crazy idea that's unrelated to the public good, even if nothing happens. And if it does?
“Random acts of violence, which could happen at marathons…an Olympics or sports event or NASCAR races or whatever, they can happen everywhere,” Kingston added. “And I don’t know that putting the National Guard there would stop a bomb.”
Immediately after the bombing, National Guard troops (there were more than 400 on duty all along the marathon route, Rice said) were dispatched to provide security for a 15-block area. “The Boston Police Department didn’t have the depth of force, and we had 460 soldiers and airmen already on duty along the route,” the general said. “We started pulling all of them into Boston to secure the crime scene and be in place to help as needed.”We saw the photos and videos of National Guard troops being among the first responders, clearing barriers so that help could reach the bombing's victims. Is it so crazy or wasteful that the National Guard should be used for purposes other than war?