Utah is among states that are sending more than their share of National Guard and reserve troops to the Persian Gulf, a study claims.
In proportion to its population, Utah sends more of "reserve component" troops - including members of both the reserve and National Guard - than all but six other states and the District of Columbia, the Omaha World Herald reported last week.But the ranking, by state, of the Guard and reserve troops in the Persian Gulf looks much different if the number of troops participating in Operation Desert Shield is compared to the number of soldiers in each state and not by each state's overall population, said Utah's Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. John L. Matthews.
The Omaha World Herald's list has created controversy in some places that share such a distinction with Utah, such as the District of Columbia.
"There are a disproportionate number of black, brown and poor," Jesse Jackson, the civil rights leader elected as a "shadow senator" to lobby for D.C. statehood, told the Washington Post.
He said it's ironic so high a proportion of D.C. residents are fighting for the self-determination of Kuwait "when we have no right of self-determination at home" because D.C. has no voting member of Congress.
Matthews believes that since the nation is being defended by an all-volunteer military force, a better way to gauge states' involvement in Operation Desert Shield is to compare the number of troops called up to the total number of troops that have volunteered for military service in the state instead of comparing the troop count to the state's overall population. Utah ranks high because a larger share of the population has joined the Guard or reserve. "Because Utah is one of the states with a heavier concentration, we will automatically come out on the high end," Matthews said.
Utah's ranking only slips one place, to 10th, if the method Matthews suggests is used instead of making the comparison based on the total state population.
The District of Columbia actually climbs from fourth on the list to first using the method Matthews suggests. Four other states stay in the top 10 in a different order, while a few of the top 10 states drop way down. Tennessee, for example, drops from No. 10 to No. 50.
The Omaha World Herald's figures put Alaska and Hawaii at the bottom of the list in the general population-based count, while the other method ranks them fifth and eighth, respectively.
The World-Herald said it obtained its numbers from the Army and Air National Guard, the Army, Navy and Air Force and Marine reserves.
Pentagon spokesmen were unable to verify the numbers for the Deseret News.
"I don't know where they got their numbers. I don't have anything quite like them," said Maj. Doug Hart, a Pentagon spokesman specializing in National Guard and reserve issues.
Matthews said he didn't see any obvious errors with the statistics but said he has had no information from the Pentagon to compare the figures with. And the number of reserve component troops changes so frequently that statistics ranking the number of call-ups by state are of little value, he said. "Those figures are so volatile that anytime you put them out there it's just a snapshot of the past. It's hard to draw hard conclusions from them because the numbers are so transient."
The World-Herald study said that of the first 128,000 reserve and Guard troops activated nationwide, 2,157 came from Utah. The total number of such available troops in the state was 13,918. The number activated increased to 2,224 on Wednesday morning.
Eleven percent of Utah's reserve component troops had been called-up as of mid-December. Almost 16 percent were on active duty at the time of the Omaha count.
The World-Herald figured that for every 100,000 people in the state, 125 soldiers were activated. So proportionately, it said Utah ranked eighth among the 50 states and District of Columbia for the number of troops activated.
The study also said that nine states that have less than 20 percent of the nation's population provide 41 percent of the activated reservists and Guard members.
Troops in the gulf
This chart was compiled from home states of the first 128,000 National Guard and reserve troops activated for Operation Desert Shield. More recent call-ups have increased the number to 147,328. "Available" means the size of all reserve and National Guard units. "Number" refers to the number called to active duty. "Ratio to population" refers to the number of people in the state called to active duty per 100,000 population. "Rank" refers to the ratio-to-population ranking among the 50 states and District of Columbia.
Jurisdiction Available Number population Rank
Mississippi 21,465 7,277 281 1
Wyoming 3,083 1,067 234 2
Louisiana 24,777 8,672 209 3
D.C. 7,774 871 144 4
Alabama 36,549 5,775 142 5
North Dakota 6,417 860 135 6
South Carolina 26,143 4,627 132 7
Utah 13,918 2,224 125 8
Georgia 30,648 8,214 125 8
Tennessee 6,093 1,316 125 8
Connecticut 10,442 553 17 47
Oregon 15,186 486 17 47
Idaho 6,643 113 11 49
Hawaii 9,426 47 4 50
Alaska 5,164 0 0 51