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Critics: National Guard Unprepared for Iraq

As the National Guard faces the unprecedented demands of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, critics say its training and equipment are woefully inadequate.

Guard units only train one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer when they are at home. Critics say adding 90-day mobilization training is not enough to prepare troops for what could be two years of deployment in Iraq.

But Colonel Daniel Zajac, who is in charge of training at Camp Shelby, insists the U.S. military has corrected many of its shortcomings and changed its training as the war in Iraq has changed.

Zajac is particularly proud of the "theater immersion" training Guard members receive at Camp Shelby. Located in southern Mississippi, it is one of the nation's largest training bases for the Army National Guard. There, trainers try to simulate real battle conditions Guard members will face when they're deployed to Iraq.

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John McChesney
Since 1979 senior correspondent John McChesney has been with NPR, where he has served as national editor (responsible for domestic news) and senior foreign editor. Over the course of his career with NPR, McChesney covered a variety of beats and traveled extensively throughout Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and Asia. His reports can be heard on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, and newscasts.