Best Defense

Why does the Maine National Guard have a side business (and a troubled contract)?

Do any other National Guard units have such side operations?



I’ve dealt with the U.S. military for decades, but I confess I didn’t know until yesterday that the Maine National Guard has a business arm called the “Maine Military Authority.” In fact, it has a troubled multimillion dollar contract to renovate busses for the Boston-area transportation authority.

Upon first reading the linked article, I guessed that this was some colonial-era hangover (Maine Native American tribes, for example, hold designated seats in the state legislature, apparently as a result of a colonial treaty). But when I checked I saw that the authority was formed in 1997.

My question 4 U: Do any other National Guard units have such side operations?

As long as we’re on the subject of my state of residence, a place I do love, do you know how to tell if you are reading an article about last weekend in Maine? It contains at least two of these three phrases: “alcohol was believed to be involved,” “also charged with violating conditions of release,” and “habitual offender.”

Thinking like a beat reporter: As for that Maine Maritime Authority contract, I wouldn’t be surprised if meetings about it in Boston somehow coincided with Red Sox home games, followed by dinner in the Ted Kennedy booth at the Union Oyster House. “Monsta seats?”

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at @tomricks1

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