United States Central Command: Military News from Northeast Africa, Southwest Asia, and Central Asia AOR

Michael Yon Online

Dear Bos'un, I couldn't get the musical video to work, so I removed it. If you can fix it, please use 450px width and 250px height. :)
Yellow Ribbon Greetings-Patriotic & Military greeting cards-2006 Christmas Collection now available!

TailRank, find other news!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Iraqi Army getting first rate advise

Submitted by Bus'un.

Courtesy of Multi-National Force - Iraq.
Monday, 30 October 2006

By Sgt. Shannon Crane
129th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
U.S. Army Capt. Samuel Shepherd, military transition team adviser for 3rd Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, monitors the radio as Iraqi soldiers stand ready during a cordon and search mission in Abu Ghraib, Iraq. Embedded transition teams assist with logistics and battlefield enabling effects, such as medical evacuation, close air support and artillery. Official Department of Defense photo.
U.S. Army Capt. Samuel Shepherd, military transition team adviser for 3rd Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, monitors the radio as Iraqi soldiers stand ready during a cordon and search mission in Abu Ghraib, Iraq. Embedded transition teams assist with logistics and battlefield enabling effects, such as medical evacuation, close air support and artillery. Official Department of Defense photo.

CAMP TAJI — Rome wasn’t built in a day...and neither was its army. Constructing, supplying and properly training a country’s fighting force is hardly an expeditious task. It is a process, and this process can be likened to a marathon - not a sprint.

The same can be said for the Iraqi Army. Over the past three years, it has been rebuilt from the ground up as a modern, effective, fighting force consisting of ten divisions with approximately 131,000 soldiers.

Today, approximately 89 Iraqi Army combat battalions, 30 brigade headquarters and six division headquarters control their own battle space.

Members of the Military Transition Teams at Camp Taji play a key role in this process, as they slowly, but surely, train the Iraqi Army to ultimately assume independence.

The purpose of the MiTTs is to advise, coach, teach and mentor Iraqi Soldiers – to provide the necessary training and guidance to bring their army to a level where it can work independently.

"First of all, we advise. So our job is to help the Iraqis plan and execute combat operations - those units that are already working in combat operations," said U.S. Army Maj. Steven Carroll, a transition team chief from Fort Sill, Okla.

"We're primary trainers, or train-the-trainers, for Iraqi units that have just started. So teacher/adviser is the primary role for the team," he added.

Each 11 to 15-man team brings a mix of combat and support specialties, including operations, intelligence, logistics, communications, engineering and security. Team members work one-on-one with their Iraqi counterparts, showing them the ropes of each specialty and offering advice on streamlining operations.

"Second, we bring the effects - coalition effects - to the Iraqi army that they don't have for themselves," said Carroll.

"Indirect fires, fixed air and helicopter attack aviation support, MEDEVAC helicopters and other non-lethal effects, like information operations assets, for example, that the Iraqi army uses during their combat operations, but can't provide for themselves. We provide that," he said.

In addition to training and advising, the teams often run patrols outside of the compound with Iraqi Soldiers to show presence, facilitate effects and to help the Soldiers gain confidence in running operations.

"We go to checkpoints and provide U.S. presence, because without it, they can’t get attack aviation, or air MEDEVAC, or any of the things that we take for granted in our Army," said U.S. Army Capt. John Govan, a logistics adviser from Mobile, Ala.

"Those have to be called in by the U.S., so we’ll go out with them sometimes as presence patrols, what we call battlefield circulation, where we move around and check on different checkpoints inside our Iraqi brigade," he added.

The Iraqi commander of the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 9th Iraqi Army Division, who asked not to use his name for reasons of force protection, commented on the importance of the American transition teams running patrols with his Soldiers, and what they ultimately learn from the experience.

"They train us how to deal with the insurgents," he said. "They also train us how to deal with the civilians and the checkpoints, and they show us how to surround the areas if we suspect that we have improvised explosive devices or insurgents."

For the transition teams to work effectively, they must establish solid relationships with Iraqi Soldiers. They do this by embedding with the Soldiers – living and working in the same areas on a daily basis.

This is not as easy as it sounds, as many of the obstacles faced by the teams lay in the strong cultural differences between the American advisers and Iraqi Soldiers.

"One of the biggest challenges, of course, is the language barrier," said U.S. Army Maj. Marc Walker, a transition team chief from Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

Walker then described the differences in work schedules between the Iraqis and Americans.

"The Iraqi soldiers’ normal day starts at seven and goes until noon," he said. "Then they have an afternoon break, and then they start back up again right after dinner time, about six o’clock...then work until midnight. So we’ve had to adjust our schedules around theirs."

"We’ve had to adjust to their prayer times and all their religious rituals that they do, as well."

Cultural awareness is a theme that resonates within all aspects of the transition teams' work. The team members are in agreement as to the importance of being able to appreciate and respect the Iraqi culture.

"As far as the cultural significance, or the ability to relate to the Iraqis culturally, I think it’s very important," said U.S. Army Capt. Eric James, an operations adviser from El Paso, Texas.

"I think if you’re culturally insensitive to them, then one, they’re not going to respect you. And then, in turn, you’re not going to build that strong relationship that you need, personally, to be able to conduct professional business."

"I think you can sum it up with you rarely get a second chance to make a good first impression," said Carroll. "And first impressions are important, in this case. Building a good working relationship - a good rapport - with your counterpart is everything."

"So, if you are culturally unaware, and accidentally insensitive, you may have ruined that chance to make a good first impression."

Still, other challenges are around every corner, and the teams work to fix this.

"It’s my job to empower them," James said. "If I accomplish my job, when I leave here, they’ll be able to conduct internal operations in their own battle space without having brigade to tell them to do their own operations."

Though it seems difficult, at times, to see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, members of the MITTs are definitely seeing a progression toward independence in their Iraqi counterparts.

"Most of us, this is our second year over here, and, so what we have seen are huge steps since 2003 in the reforming of an Iraqi army and a basic Iraqi security force," said Govan.

"But the daily, mundane things that we do, it’s tough to see unless you step back and look at where they started from," he said. "We believe that they have grown."

"Our unit, as a logistics battalion, is the equivalent of a forward support battalion inside of a brigade combat team. They don’t do a great job with logistics, simply because so much of logistics is farmed out to contract food, water, and maintenance."

"But what we have seen them do is grow as a maneuverable force. They’re responsible for their own force protection and their own re-supply, and we have really nothing to do with that except for overseeing it."

"So in the beginning, we helped create it, and now, keeping true to the MiTT model, we’ve worked ourselves basically out of a job."

An Iraqi civilian interpreter who works with 3rd Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 9th Iraqi Army Division, who also asked his name not be used, said he has seen a positive difference in his country’s army in the short time he’s worked with the transition teams, and made comparisons to how the Iraqi army used to be.

"I don’t think we had an army," he said, "because you see, everyone wanted to make something for himself. Some money or some respect. Everyone made something for himself. That’s why I don’t care about the army before 2003."

"After 2003, I feel that we got a new army. I feel that the Iraqi army is a great army that I’ve never seen before. But at the same time, I see the Iraqi officers and the soldiers don’t have the experience. They don’t know what the other armies in the world are doing, how they fight, or how they work."

He added that as a result of the guidance the Iraqi soldiers have received from the transition teams, the Iraqi army is changing for the better.

"Actually, I’m honest...I see progress," he said. "I see progress."

"Despite the differences that the Iraqi army has to the way we're doing business, they're actually accomplishing the mission," Carroll said, "at least our unit in their sector, to a standard. It’s rarely the American Army's standard, but they're accomplishing the mission."

In spite of the various obstacles and seemingly slow progress involved with building and training a military force, the members of the transition teams see the relevance of the mission and continue to stay the course.

"We’re told that the MiTTs are basically the exit strategy from this theater and we all want the same thing, and that’s to go home," Govan said. "But I think it’s, overall, a good thing. I’ve seen that they do grow."

Some team members find job satisfaction in seeing how far the Iraqis have come in their training.

"This assignment is very rewarding, and it is very frustrating at the same time," said Walker, "but I believe the rewards outweigh the frustrations that you will have over here."

"And when you look back over the course of the year, you’ll look at where they started and where you’ve ended up, and I’m very pleased with where we’re at right now."

Others find fulfillment in the experiences they’ve gained.

"This is a great opportunity to get out and to get in the fight...and see a different part of the Army," said James.

"To really grow and experience new things," he said. "To learn a lot about how to conduct yourself and run operations in a volatile environment. You can do nothing but grow professionally and personally, I think, by joining a MiTT and getting out here and living with the Iraqis."

And still others find success in the day-to-day gains...making headway in the marathon of military transition.

"There are days, or late nights, when I walk back from the battalion commander's office, where I think we'll never get through to them," said Carroll.

"But the very next day, a triumph," he said, "and we've broken through and things have gotten better overnight."

"I would absolutely recommend it to anybody that wanted to do it. It’s a challenging job, but it's definitely the future."

Saturday, October 28, 2006

NGAUS Leg: What’s Happening In Congress? 10/27/06

Free Life Insurance for Combat Troops.

Thanks to an amendment from U.S. Representative John Spratt (SC) that was included in the defense authorization bill, troops in combat will now receive free life insurance. The amendment provides payment of all premiums incurred by military personnel for Servicemember’s Group Life Insurance (SGLI) coverage up to the maximum amount of $400,000. This will allow each service member serving in Iraq and Afghanistan to take the full amount of life insurance available and not have to worry about any of the costs associated with it. Troops will receive reimbursement for all premiums paid while serving in a combat theater.


The Veteran’s Compensation Cost-of-Living Act of 2006 S.2562 has passed Congress and become public law 109-361. This law requires the Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs to increase the compensation rate for veterans with service connected disabilities and the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation rates for survivors of disabled veterans whose deaths were rated to be service connected at the same rate as the Social Security title II benefits. The new rates will become effective on Dec. 1, 2006.

Congressional Calendar.

Nov 7 - Election Day
Nov 9 - Reconvenes for introduction of bills only
Nov 13 - Congress returns to work
Nov 15 - House elects GOP leaders
Nov 16 - House elects Democratic leaders
Nov 17 - Thanksgiving recess target
Dec 4 - Congress returns this week if necessary to complete work

Update on Anthrax Vaccinations.

On October 16, the Department of Defense announced that mandatory anthrax vaccines will resume within 60 days. DoD officials have said that The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has continually found, and independent medical experts have confirmed, that the anthrax vaccine is safe and effective. The principal defense deputy for health affairs, Dr. William Winkenwerder Jr, said that more than 200,000 military personnel, along with emergency-essential DoD civilians and contractors will be vaccinated.

What’s Happening At NGAUS?

Major General Umbarger Visits NGAUS Headquarters.

NGAUS Chairman, Major General R. Martin Umbarger, spent some time in Washington, D.C. this week meeting and getting to know the NGAUS full-time staff. General Umbarger was elected as the new NGAUS Chairman at the 128th General Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He spent time this week at NGAUS headquarters meeting with department directors and various other staff, and he also attended an award luncheon for Chairman Tom Davis (R-VA), House Government Reform Committee.

Upcoming Events at NGAUS.

Winter in Washington brings many important dates for the staff at NGAUS. The Committee on Finance will meet in Charleston, South Carolina, 3-5 November. State visits are beginning with the Wyoming National Guard Association on November 15, the Kentucky National Guard Association on January 16-17, and the Montana National Guard Association on January 30. November 17-19 will bring in the NGAUS Board of Directors for their Winter Meeting in Washington. And, On December 6th, Industry Day will be held at the National Guard Memorial Building in Washington, D.C.

What Can You Do?

11 days and counting…...The midterm elections are getting closer. Time is running out and it is important that you make these final days count before Election Day. Remember these candidates may be representing you in the near future. Share the Guard story with them. Every vote counts!

Published by the NGAUS Legislative Staff:

Brig Gen (ret) Richard M. Green, Director
Chris DeBatt, Army Programs
Bernie Phelps, Senior Legislative Analyst
Emily Breitbach, Legislative Analyst

NGAUS Notes: 10/27/2006

Raise Puts Basic Pay Closer to Civilian Equivalents.

With the 2.2 percent across-the-board pay raise that is part of the 2007 National Defense Authorization Act, the Defense Department will reach its goal to bring military basic pay to the 70th percentile when compared to civilians with comparable education and training.

In announcing the news last week, Virginia Penrod, DoD's director of military compensation, said the raise - which kicks in Jan. 1 - matches the employment cost index (ECI) for the year.

ECI measures private sector wage growth. Current law ties any military pay raise to the index.

Also helping DoD reach its goal, she said, is targeted pay raises for service members in grades E-5 to E-7 and warrant officers, which go into effect April 1.

DoD has more than 20 different types of bonuses, and the act enables the department to pay these bonuses through the fiscal year.

The act also raises the ceiling of debt DoD is allowed to cancel.

"Soldiers serving in Iraq, for example, receive hostile fire pay, family separation pay and hardship pay," Ms. Penrod said. "If the service member is injured and [medically evacuated] to Germany, sometimes mistakes happen and the pays are not cancelled. The soldier now has a debt."

If later, as the Defense Finance and Accounting Service is processing the service member for medical separation or retirement, that debt shows up, she explained, officials can now waive up to $10,000 of debt incurred through no fault of the service member.

Troop Christmas Stocking Deadline Next Week.

The deadline for ensuring troops get a Christmas stocking with goodies for the holidays is Wednesday, Nov. 1.

For the second year, Operation Give and Stars for Stripes - both members of the Defense Department's America Supports You program - have teamed up to spread holiday cheer to those stationed far from home.

FedEx is helping the effort this year to get supplies shipped free of charge to the Salt Lake City warehouse and then on to locations overseas.

In 2005, service members received more than six tons of stockings in Afghanistan. This year, organizers have set a lofty goal of getting 20 tons - more than 10,000 stockings - to those stationed in Iraq.

"If we take care of every boot on the ground, then we would start giving them to the kids," said Judy Seale, president and chief executive officer of Stars for Stripes. "[We] cannot send too many."

Paul Holton, an Army Guardsman and founder of Operation Give, said these efforts are important to the troops because they're a tangible show of support from home.

Participants in the program can make their own stockings, gift bags or decorative boxes or they can simply send items to the warehouse, where they will be stuffed before mailing to the troops.

Suggested donation items: Christmas cards and decorations, compact discs, DVDs, hand sanitizers, personal hygiene items, personal fans, socks, games, calling cards, non-perishable food items, disposable cameras and toys for service members to give to Iraqi children.

Please visit Operation Give for more information.

Congressman and Fmr. Guardsman Receives NGB Honor on Capitol Hill.

The National Guard Bureau awarded Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., its G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery Award Wednesday for his work in Congress on the National Guard's behalf.

Presented to those who demonstrate exemplary service to the Guard, Mr. Davis received the award for addressing incorrect pay problems, work on behalf of wounded veterans and his backing of legislation that would elevate the Guard's profile within the Defense Department.

At a Capitol Hill ceremony, Mr. Davis, who served in the Virginia National Guard in the 1970s, noted the Guard's participation in everything from the war on terror to homeland emergencies, such as Hurricane Katrina, but that it only receives 10 percent of DoD funding.

"This gaping imbalance is an injustice and a grave threat to future efforts to protect the American people from a foe we know will strike us here at home," he said.

As chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, he also has looked into deployment difficulties, particularly administrative and training problems as well as Guard equipment problems.

Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, National Guard Bureau chief, presented Mr. Davis with the award. Past recipients include the award's namesake, who served in the Mississippi Guard from 1946 to 1980 and in Congress for 30 years, Sens. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., Wendell Ford, D-Ky., Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, as well as Reps. James Gibbons, R-Nev., David Hobson, R-Ohio, and Gene Taylor, D-Miss.

Communications Dept. Seeks Seasoned Staff Writer.

The National Guard Association has an immediate opening for an experienced staff writer. Selected candidate will contribute to National Guard, the association's monthly magazine, NGAUS Notes and the NGAUS Web site.

Duties include writing short news stories and covering a variety of hearings on Capitol Hill and elsewhere. For the magazine, the successful candidate will contribute at least one substantial feature story each month and assist in editing and producing the final product. Some travel is required.

Candidates must have five years of reporting experience. Familiarity with the military and the National Guard is preferred.

Interest in writing about military/legislative topics a must. Car required.

Salary: low- to mid-40s. Excellent benefits include health and dental coverage and a 401k plan. Convenient Capitol Hill location.

Please send cover letter, resume and three writing samples to:
    Communications Department
    National Guard Association
    One Massachusetts Ave. NW
    Washington, D.C. 20001.
    Fax: 202-682-9358.
    E-mail: Chris Prawdzik.
Please enter "Application" in the subject line if sending e-mail.

NGAUS History.

After World War I, NGAUS and the Adjutants Generals Association of the United States (AGAUS), worked tirelessly to keep the active-component Army small.

"We are all absolutely united to build up the Guard and smash the regular Army," said Col. Bennett C. Clark, NGAUS president at the time.

This was too strong a stance for most NGAUS members. So instead, the association settled on four specific objectives:

First, Guardsmen, rather than active-component personnel, should be chiefs of the Militia Bureau. In addition, NGAUS wanted the bureau shifted from the control of the Army general staff, it wanted the War Department to bring units rather than individuals into federal service, and leadership insisted that whatever law came from Congress must designate the Guard as an integral part of the military force in peacetime and in war.

This Week in Guard History.

October 28, 1918: Bois Belleu, north of Verdun, France - As World War I reaches its climax, Allied forces along the Western Front continue launching attacks against the Hindenburg Line. Although the attacks keep pressure on the Germans and gain some ground, not all succeed. The 26th Division, with Guardsmen from Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, launch a failed attack in a sector known as Death Valley.

The assault fails, primarily because the weak division has seen action daily for about a month. The 51st Brigade, composed of Massachusetts' 101st Infantry and Connecticut's 102nd Infantry, has just 15 officers and about 800 men while their combined strength should be 6,100 men.

After the attack, survivors withdraw after losing 150 additional men. On Nov. 1, the 26th Division pulls out of Death Valley. It would see no more combat as the war ended on November 11.

Complex Environment to be Resolved by Iraqis

Courtesy of DOD Multi-National Forces Iraq: Complex environment to be resolved primarily by Iraqis, Casey says
Wednesday, 25 October 2006
Multi-National Force-Iraq Commanding General U.S. Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad conduct a joint press conference in Baghdad, Oct. 24.   Official Department of Defense photo.
Multi-National Force-Iraq Commanding General U.S. Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad conduct a joint press conference in Baghdad, Oct. 24. Official Department of Defense photo.

— The senior U.S. troop commander in Iraq expressed his belief, Oct. 24, that the country can be stabilized, while acknowledging the “difficult and complex” situation here.

“Several factors add to the complexity that we’re now seeing” in Iraq, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., commander of Multi-National Force-Iraq, told reporters in Baghdad. U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad accompanied Casey at the news conference.

Since the Iraqi elections in December 2005, the nature of the conflict has evolved “from what was an insurgency against us, to a struggle for the division of political and economic power among the Iraqis,” Casey said.

The Feb. 22 bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra fanned the existing animosity between Iraq’s Sunni and Shiite citizens, Casey noted.  

Al-Qaida, which has an active strategy to foment sectarian violence across Iraq, is further inflaming the situation, Casey said.

Sectarian death squads and illegal militias are attacking and murdering Iraqi civilians living in the central and southern parts of the country, Casey said. Resistance -- mostly led by members of Saddam Hussein’s deposed regime – is active and causing trouble, he added.

In addition, Iran and Syria continue to stir up unrest and meddle in Iraqi affairs, the four-star general said. 

“Both Iran and Syria continue to be decidedly unhelpful by providing support to the different extremist and terrorist groups operating inside Iraq,” he said.

Casey noted that the new government is only about 150-days old and that “the intensities” of the annual Ramadan religious period are adding to an already tense situation.

“It makes for a difficult situation, and it’s likely to remain that way for the near term,” he said.

U.S. military forces in Iraq “have continuously adapted to stay ahead of the enemy and to ensure that our U.S. servicemen and women have the proper tools and support they need to accomplish the mission,” Casey said.

After the Iraqi elections, “we determined that we needed to enhance the capabilities of the Iraqi Security Force to develop and to succeed in security operations,” Casey explained, noting U.S. advisors were embedded in Iraqi security units in February 2005.

A concerted effort was made to secure the Syrian border to prevent foreign fighters and suicide bombers from crossing into Iraq, Casey said. By November 2005, U.S. and Iraqi Security Force had succeeded in controlling that border.

“We are about 75 percent of the way through a three-step process in building those forces,” said Casey. “And, it's going to take another 12 to 18 months or so till I believe the Iraqi security forces are completely capable of taking over responsibility for their own security – still, probably, with some level of support from us, but that will be directly asked for by the Iraqis.”

Casey said the “complex environment” seen in Iraq today “would be resolved primarily by Iraqis, but with our full support.”

Much U.S. attention has been devoted to the security situation in Baghdad, Casey said, noting U.S. forces were shifted to confront a recent spike of insurgent-led violence in and around Iraq’s capital city.

“And, we also have increased our targeting efforts against death squads to match our efforts against al Qaida,” he added.

The United States supports Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s national reconciliation initiative, the general said. Engagement talks with a view toward stopping the violence are ongoing with some of the resistance elements, he added.

(Courtesy of American Forces Press Service)
In other developments throughout Iraq:

Technatori Tags: News ... counterinsurgency ... Terrorism ... International News ... World News and Politics ... al-Qaeda in Iraq ... US News ... Iraq ... Jihad ... Media Bias ... Islamist ... Counterterrorism ... War.

Iraqi Soldiers rejoin the fight

Friday, 20 October 2006
By Lance Cpl. Ben Eberle
I Marine Logistics Group PAO

CAMP HABBANIYAH — More than 1,500 Iraqi Soldiers returned to duty recently, reporting here between Sept. 20 and Oct. 1

Top Iraqi military officials approved the full reinstatement of the soldiers and welcomed them back to the Iraqi Army, said Col. Juan Ayala, senior advisor to the 1st Iraqi Army Division.

“The fact that they came back on their own volition shows that they want to serve,” said Ayala. “It’s going to give this division a much needed influx of soldiers.”

The Iraqi Army is a voluntary force but unlike American forces has no specified terms of enlistment. Prolonged exposure to combat and dangerous conditions in their families’ hometowns may have played a part in the soldiers’ temporary AWOL status, said one U.S. military official.

Maj. Gen. Tariq Abdul Wahab Jasim, commanding general, 1st Iraqi Army Division, realized the need and requested assistance from the Iraqi Government.

The Defense Ministry offered dispensation to those who previously left, attracting entire families back to the fighting forces, explained Ayala.

“The Iraqi Army is full of family members – brothers, fathers, sons, uncles, cousins – I’ve seen fathers and sons on patrol together,” said Ayala, who served as chief of staff for 1st Marine Logistics Group prior to deployment.

“This is also a very communal society,” he added. “Everyone is very loyal to their religious leaders, their tribes and their families.” The soldiers’ return to the 1st Iraqi Army Division, he said, is due largely to word of mouth.

The division is the oldest operating in the new Iraqi Army and assumes key battle space in the heart of the Sunni Triangle. Defined by the predominantly Sunni Muslim population between Baghdad, Ramadi (in the west) and Tikrit (to the north), it is considered one of the most dangerous regions in Iraq.

“I’ve been here nine months now, and day after day the Iraqi soldiers show that they’re able to fight,” said Ayala. “In many units, they’re constantly under attack but they keep coming back… They’re very good at conducting counter-insurgent operations.”

The division is a mix of Shi’a, Sunni, Kurds and Christians. These soldiers are better than most Americans at spotting insurgent behavior due to their understanding of tribes, sects and terrorist organizations in Iraq, said Ayala.

The 1st Iraqi Army Division also performs casualty evacuations, posts security after attacks, and commands patrols and vehicle convoys on its own. This includes the recent operation that returned nearly 1,600 soldiers back to Camp Habbaniyah.

“This is a very professional division, and there is no (animosity) between Sunni and Shi’a,” said Tariq. “As far as (the changes) we face, as long as we have a strong staff, the problems will be light.”

One such change is the amount of responsibility resting with noncommissioned officers. The officers in the old Iraqi Army supervised and ran everything, putting little or no responsibility in the enlisted ranks.

The new Iraqi Army is different. Noncommissioned officers are commanding some foot and vehicle patrols and are “doing a great job when given the chance to lead,” said Lt. Col. James B. Zientek, chief advisor to 3rd Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division.

According to projections from Multi-National Force – West, an Iraqi recruiting initiative plans to bring in 30,000 troops by May 2007. Retaining the newly-recruited soldiers as well as those in the operating forces has become a top priority.

“This is a marathon, not a sprint,” said Ayala. “(Command, support and maintenance of the brigades) will eventually be under control of the division commander.”

Joint patrols knocking on doors in Doura

Friday, 20 October 2006.
By Staff Sgt. Brent Williams
4th BCT PAO, 4th Inf. Div.

BAGHDAD — A loud knock on the door breaks the silence of the mosque and grabs the attention of its occupants. A representative of the local imam, his family members and associates standing behind him, greet the Iraqi National Policemen standing at their door.

After a brief introduction, the police officers from 6th Battalion, 2nd National Police Division file into the Islamic building used for prayer and worship.

The day’s mission has all but ended as the leaders of the 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment provide watch from across the street. At the request of the INP, and in respect for Iraqi culture, the Soldiers attached to the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division will not be entering the mosque on this mission.

“The (INP) forces are doing most of the searching part of this cordon element, with my Soldiers providing oversight, assistance and expertise as necessary,” said Lt. Col. Gregory Butts, commander, 2nd Bn., 506th Inf. Regt., 101st Airborne Division, attached to 4th BCT, 4th Inf. Div. “Only Iraqi Security Forces will go in and search the mosque,” Butts said, observing the ISF scouring the roof of the mosque. “The NP want to go in and search it because they also feel it is more appropriate, especially during Ramadan. We are here in case there are any problems.”

Iraqi Security Forces and Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers continue to conduct security operations, like this one, throughout Baghdad to provide a secure and stable environment for Iraq.

Baghdad’s Doura neighborhood has been plagued by terrorist elements, and the Soldiers operations completed in the area have become routine for ISF and MND-B Soldiers.

The Soldiers link-up with their Iraqi counterparts in the early morning hours. The IPs roll their vehicles into the march and prepare for the upcoming mission.

“Doura has been our main effort for the brigade and division,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Moss, 2nd Bn., 506th Inf. Reg. “Our whole goal is to give the Iraqi people the courage and confidence to actually defend themselves and enjoy life as a free people.”

The units move simultaneously and block off key entrances, isolating a small portion of the neighborhood, in this case, near the Doura Power Plant in southern Baghdad. The Soldiers and NP officers dismount and form their teams for conducting the intensive search operations that have affectionately earned the nickname, “a block party.”

The efforts of the ISF and MND-B Soldiers are helping the Iraqi government to stand up to the challenge of securing the nation’s capital, said Moss.

“One thing for the Iraqi people, them gaining trust in their Iraqi Police and National Police, will individually help us out because they know we are there for a purpose,” said Moss. “Eventually, the people are going to help us close out this war because we need them just as much as they need us.”

The area of responsibility assigned to the battalion is at times challenging for the “Renegade” Soldiers, who have been responsible for the Doura area for nearly a year. “Every day they go out,” Moss beamed, “they know they are going out for a purpose: to help the Iraqi people. Now our main effort is Doura, cleaning that bad boy out of insurgents, improvised-explosive devices and trash – anything that will help the Iraqi people stand-up and enjoy life like citizens.”

For Company A’s 2nd Lt. Terry Gambrel, 2nd Platoon leader, the military is doing all the right things – taking the fight to the enemy, creating a more confident and capable ISF and securing the Doura neighborhood for the Iraqi people.

“From the time we got here, we haven’t slowed down our (operation tempo), and if anything, towards the end, we have picked it up even more,” Gambrel said. “We have had a lot of big operations – Together Forward being the biggest. After we are done taking it to the enemy and aggressively securing an area, we can’t just go back to the forward operating base and say we are finished.”

While the brigade and battalion leadership works with local leaders in the area to control Doura, the Soldiers of “Easy Company” are witnessing a more self-reliant ISF, said Gambrel.

“These guys are good, and they have the ability to affect change,” said the former Special Forces Soldier about the Iraqis from the 6th Bn., 2nd NPD. “These guys are a more capable unit than what we have seen in the past.”

In less than four hours, the Soldiers sweep the neighborhood, thoroughly searching more than 140 homes and buildings – a task that would have taken longer, and with buildings such as the mosque, would have been virtually impossible without the presence of the INP.

The presence of the Iraqi Security Forces is measured and respected by both the Iraqi citizens in Doura and the MND-B Soldiers partnered in the cause. People open their doors and find comfort in the Iraqi soldiers working with the MND-B Soldiers, said Pfc. Jeremy Bailey, infantryman, Co. A, 2nd Bn., 506th Inf. Regt.

“It’s been a lot safer. A lot of people are really happy,” said Bailey, a native of Calhoun, Ga. “They feel a lot safer.”

Operation Together Forward was the toughest task for Bailey to date, who upon completing his basic training at Fort Benning, Ga., arrived to the unit eight weeks into the deployment.

“It was kind of rough because we were out there for 15 hours a day, and all we had time to do was come back for a couple hours of sleep and then it was up and back out there again,” Bailey remembered. “This is a tough job.”

Despite the long days, the hard work and the imminent danger, Bailey, who once took shrapnel in his face, said he wants to see his work and efforts affect more than a temporary change.

“Sometimes, I have my doubts, but I think it could be possible,” he explained. “I notice little changes. Now, I notice that they have a trash-cleaning crew out in sector, and people throw their garbage in a dump truck. It’s the little things like that we are seeing that are starting to help us out. I believe it is getting better.”

Bailey and Gambrel, as well as their leaders, attribute their recent successes to the dedication and the hard work of the ISF working to rebuild Baghdad.

Talk to the people in Doura – watch the NP, said Gambrel. They are accomplishing the security mission in Doura. The people will say that Doura is secure.

“We are doing exactly what I think we are supposed to be doing,” Gambrel said. “We want a more confident ISF, and that is what we are doing.

“Every target we hit, we take the ISF with us – the cordon and knock missions, everything we do – those guys are with us. If we run into some kind of problem, they come running. They are also out there patrolling themselves. That’s a huge leap from when we first arrived.”

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Iraq rises to confront

Courtesy of American Forces Press Service

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s governmental leaders are rising to confront “an array of complicated issues” amid a spike in insurgent violence, a senior U.S. military officer said Oct. 19. “The U.S. and Coalition leadership commends this perseverance, while the Multi-National Force-Iraq continues to assess and revise our strategy and tactics to support this government” in an ever-changing, dynamic environment, Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, the spokesman for Multi-National Force-Iraq, told reporters at a Baghdad news conference.

An Iraqi Police officer ,left, and U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Rob Landeros, with the California Army National Guard and assigned to the 49th Military Police Brigade, keep watch over a person who was driving a suspicious vehicle at a checkpoint in Ad-Diwaniyah, in southern Iraq. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Adrian Cadiz

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki recently announced the formation of a special committee to address the country’s illegal militia issue, Caldwell said.

The Iraqi Government, he added, is also seeking to reform its Security Ministries. In fact, the Iraqi Government reassigned a number of leaders of the National Police on Oct. 16.
“Although the leadership at the division level has changed, the National Police continued to prove itself as a capable, and viable civil force,” Caldwell said.

commended the Iraqi Military and Police efforts in combating the insurgency. The Iraqi Security Force is finding “a good number” of weapons caches throughout Iraq. That’s because Iraqi forces are knowledgeable about their areas of operation, Caldwell said, and are growing in size and professionalism.

Caldwell cited a recent joint Iraqi and U.S. Marine operation in Anbar province resulting in the detention of more than 35 suspected insurgents and the discovery of thousands of hidden weapons.

That operation, he said, collected more than 11,000 pieces of weapons and ordnance between Oct. 7 and Oct. 13, including much material suitable for making Improvised Explosive Devices. Discovery of weapons caches in Iraq has increased over the past few months, Caldwell said, noting 170 caches were found in July, 190 in August, and 220 in September.

“Already this month, 144 caches have been found,” Caldwell said. And the Iraqi Security Forces is continuing to grow in numbers, as well as in capability, Caldwell said. More than 312,000 Iraqi Soldiers and Police have been trained and equipped by the Coalition Force.

Caldwell pointed to the Iraqi government’s recruiting plan to bring more than 30,000 new Iraqi troops to serve in troublesome Anbar province by May. And more than 600 Iraqi Police recruits, the general noted, are slated to graduate this week and begin work in the troubled province.
In February, 3,800 Iraqi Police worked out of 14 active Iraqi Police stations in three of the nine districts in Anbar province, Caldwell said. Today, there are 33 police stations operating in eight districts, he noted, with more than 8,000 trained Iraqi Police.

Caldwell acknowledged there’s been an increase in insurgent violence since the start of Ramadan in late September. That’s consistent, he said, with similar spikes in enemy activity that have occurred during the month-long Muslim observance in the past two years.
“The violence is indeed disheartening,” Caldwell said, noting there’s been a 22-percent increase in insurgent attacks in Baghdad during the first few weeks of this year’s Ramadan observance. But Operation Together Forward has made a difference, and has helped to reduce the amount of sectarian violence in the specific Baghdad neighborhoods. Still, he acknowledged, it hasn’t caused a reduction of the overall level of violence in the city. Meanwhile, “we are working very closely with the government of Iraq to determine how to best to re-focus our efforts,” Caldwell said.

That goal “is achievable,” Caldwell emphasized, “with a combination of both tough security measures by coalition and Iraqi Security Forces and a political process that recognizes that 11 to 12 million Iraqis voted for a unity government.”

Technatori Tags: News ... counterinsurgency ... Terrorism ... International News ... World News and Politics ... al-Qaeda in Iraq ... US News ... Iraq ... Jihad ... Media Bias ... Islamist ... Counterterrorism ... War

Sunday, October 22, 2006

NGAUS Legislative Update: 10/20/2006

What’s Happening In Congress?
Traffic in the District of Columbia has eased up a bit. Commuters have recently enjoyed a less hectic traffic jam getting onto the beltway and a bit quicker drive home in the evening. Why is this you may ask? It is because Congress is still in recess until the midterm elections. While DC seems a little less hectic, the Congressional campaigns remain vibrant as ever. The media across the nation has been overloaded with campaign advertisements and local debates. With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and immigration along the Southern border being among the major issues this election cycle, the National Guard will continue to be affected by the decisions made by these representatives in Washington.

Defense Authorization Update.
On Tuesday October 17th, President George W. Bush finalized the TRICARE benefits for Selected Reserve by signing the $532.8 billion John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007. It has been a long haul but, nevertheless a worthwhile fight. TRICARE coverage for all Guard and Reserve will be available no later than October 1, 2007. Another item of interest from the Defense Authorization was the National Guard Empowerment Act which has been referred to the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves. They are expected to submit a report to Congress on their findings no later than March 1, 2007.

Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) for Guard and Reserves.
Since 9/11 the Guard has become a much more operational force and as appropriate many benefits have adjusted to be commensurate with the service provided by the soldiers and airmen of the National Guard. The Montgomery GI Bill still remains an outdated and even an "unfair" benefit compared to the active duty Chapter 30 Montgomery GI Bill. Currently the MGIB Selected Reserve Chapter 1606 monthly rate is $309.00 while the MGIB Active Duty Chapter 30 monthly rate is $1,075.00. Not only are the monthly rates enormously different but, under Chapter 30, an active duty service member has 10 years from separation to use their MGIB benefits. A National Guard member looses all of their benefits as soon as their enlistment ends. While all of this information can be quite disturbing, there seems to be hope coming from Congress that this issue may be a priority in the 110th Congress. On September 27th a hearing on the GI Bill for Selected reserves was held in the Rayburn House Office Building. This hearing garnered much bipartisan support and even some legislative action. The very next day, on September 28th Representative Vic Snyder introduced H.R. 6250 “To amend Title 38, United States Code to recodify as part of that title the educational assistance programs for members of the reserve components”. As we all know the 109th Congress is quickly coming to an end and this bill is likely to not make it far with the amount of work left for the year. This bill does however give us hope that next year we can take this issue further and give the soldiers and airmen in the National Guard what they deserve, benefits that are equal to their service and their sacrifices.

Due to the importance of this issue to members of the National Guard, the NGAUS legislative staff will be preparing a draft resolution for consideration for the states as this year’s resolutions’ process begins in January.

Congressional Calendar:
    Nov. 7th Election Day
    Nov. 9th Reconvenes for introduction bills only
    Nov. 13th Congress returns to work
    Nov. 17th Thanksgiving recess target
    Dec. 4th Congress returns this week if necessary to complete work.
What’s Happening At NGAUS?
The NGAUS legislative team is currently working hard to produce the Legislative Objectives Booklet for preparation of the Federal Budget for FY2008.

Task Forces.
The NGAUS legislative team works directly with the eleven task forces which include the Personnel/ Benefits Task Force, the Medical Task Force, the Fire Support Task Force, the Combat Vehicle Task Force, the Combat Support/Combat Service Support Task Force, the Army Aviation Task Force, the C4I Task Force, the Engineer Task Force, the Airlift/ Tanker/ Rescue Task Force, the Fighter Task Force, and the C3I Task Force. The Task Forces are a very important resource for the legislative effort and we appreciate the work of the Chairman and members of the task forces. If you are not currently volunteering on one of our eleven task forces and feel that your knowledge and experience could be beneficial to one of them please visit our task force portion of the NGAUS website and contact the Chairman of that task force for information on how to get involved.

What You Can Do.
The countdown has begun; only 18 days left to polish up on the issues and the candidates before the 2006 midterm elections. As Election Day nears candidates will be campaigning in their districts trying to pull every last vote they can before the big day. Make sure to take advantage of this time and go to listen to them, hear their campaign platforms, and ask questions that you may have. Remember these candidates may be representing you in the near future. Share the Guard story with them. Every vote counts!

Published by the NGAUS Legislative Staff:
    Brig Gen (ret) Richard M. Green, Director
    Chris DeBatt, Army Programs
    Bernie Phelps, Senior Legislative Analyst
    Emily Breitbach, Legislative Analyst
For more information on NGAUS, check out our website: NGAUS.org.


NGAUS Notes: 10/20/2006

Retirees Now Eligible for Recruiting Program Bonuses
Docupak Inc., which administers the National Guard Recruiting Assistance Program (G-RAP), announced this month that eligible retirees now may become recruiting assistants for the Army Guard.

Once hired and trained, G-RAP recruiting assistants may receive free recruiting incentive items and up to $2,000 for each soldier they help enlist in the Army Guard.

Some participants also may receive additional incentives, such as health care insurance coverage.

The program, which began as an experiment last year, does not limit the number of potential soldiers a recruiting assistant can bring into the Guard.

A recruiting assistant receives an initial payment of $1,000, with a second $1,000 payment upon successful shipment of a nonprior service recruit to basic training.

As for a prior-service recruit, the recruiting assistant will receive the initial payment of $1,000 upon the recruit's enlistment in the Army Guard. The second $1,000 payment comes upon that recruit's successful drilling of 120 days in their unit.

The incentive program led to perhaps the greatest recruiting boost ever for the Army Guard.

In fiscal year 2006, the Army Guard experienced a net growth of 13,111 soldiers. This surpassed its 34,875 reenlistment goal by more than 6,200 soldiers, according to figures released this month.

With G-RAP such a boon for the Army Guard, Lt. Gen. Craig McKinley, Air Guard director, told attendees at the 2006 NGAUS General Conference that he is working to adopt the program for the Air Guard.

To date, more than 90,000 recruiting assistants have participated in the program.

For more information, please visit Guard Recruiting Assistant.

DoD Again Makes Anthrax Vaccination Mandatory
The Defense Department announced Monday it will resume mandatory anthrax inoculations for service members and civilians deploying to U.S. Central Command and Korea.

A small number of service members assigned to homeland defense units will also receive the shots.

The six-shot series provides immunity from a deadly disease that has been used as a biological attack agent, said Dr. William Winkenwerder, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs.

David S.C. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, will issue instructions to the services within the next two months. The program will start soon after.

A court order halted mandatory vaccinations in 2004. The order was lifted in 2005, and service members deploying to Asia or in special units could choose to receive the vaccinations or not. Roughly 50 percent of those deploying opted for the shots.

"The anthrax vaccine is safe; it is effective for all forms of anthrax spore exposure," Dr. Winkenwerder said. "Time and again [this vaccine] has been looked at by experts ... and each time the conclusion is the vaccine is safe and it is effective."

He said the anthrax threat is still out there.

"Our adversaries continue to remind us that they are determined to obtain nuclear, chemical and biological weapons," he said. "We do not yet know who perpetrated the attacks of October 2001."

In that incident, letters filled with anthrax spores killed five, sickened 17 and contaminated the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C.

Veterans Day Provides Opportunities to Recognize Patriots
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and several other veterans organizations announced Wednesday an effort to "kindle a new spark of patriotism" by asking all men and women who have served in the military to wear their medals on Veterans Day, Nov. 11.

"We are announcing a 'Veterans Pride Initiative' to remind Americans of the pride and honor in the hearts of those who have served," said R. James Nicholson, VA secretary. "We expect Americans will see our decorated heroes unite in spirit at ceremonies, in parades and elsewhere as a compelling symbol of courage and sacrifice on Veterans Day, the day we set aside to thank those who served and safeguarded our national security."

The campaign is modeled after a tradition in Australia and New Zealand, countries who honor the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps on April 25 each year, VA officials said. Mr. Nicholson said he hopes a U.S. tradition will ensue to emulate this pride in being a veteran and in honoring the nation's veterans.

VA is offering information about the campaign on a Web page at Veterans' Pride.

Veterans Day is also the release date of For My Country: The Ballad of the National Guard by legendary singer Pat Boone.

Mr. Boone, a longtime friend of Mr. Nicholson, along with the Christian group Valor, debuted the song and video at the 128th NGAUS General Conference last month after the secretary's speech.

The music video can be ordered at www.formycountry.us. It includes interviews with Guard families and footage from the NGAUS conference.

Communications Dept. Seeks Seasoned Staff Writer
The National Guard Association has an immediate opening for an experienced staff writer. Selected candidate will contribute to National Guard, the association's monthly magazine, NGAUS Notes and the NGAUS Web site.

Duties include writing short news stories and covering a variety of hearings on Capitol Hill and elsewhere. For the magazine, the successful candidate will contribute at least one substantial feature story each month and assist in editing and producing the final product. Some travel is required.

Candidates must have five years of reporting experience. Familiarity with the military and the National Guard is preferred.

Interest in writing about military/legislative topics a must. Car required. Salary: low- to mid-40s. Excellent benefits include health and dental coverage and a 401K plan. Convenient Capitol Hill location.

Please send cover letter, resume and three writing samples to:
    Communications Department
    National Guard Association
    One Massachusetts Ave., NW
    Washington, D.C., 20001.
    Fax: 202-682-9358.
    E-mail: Chris Prawdzik.
Please enter "Application" in the subject line if sending e-mail.

NGAUS History
St. Louis, Mo., hosted the first NGAUS general conference in September 1879. Although just 14 years since the Civil War, three former Confederate states - Louisiana, Mississippi and Virginia - and border state Kentucky joined 10 former Union states.

The St. Louis Globe-Democrat noted at the time that militia units "were sadly in need of rehabilitation, especially in the West and South."

Although laced with various social events, business sessions featured four days of lively debate, which included a push for a $2 million annual appropriation to supply the militia.

This Week in Guard History
October 17, 1859: Harpers Ferry, Va. (now W.Va.) - Abolitionist John Brown leads a group of men in a raid on the federal arsenal in order to arm slaves he would lead in a revolt against their masters.

Local residents foil the attack, forcing Brown's party into a firehouse where militiamen from Jefferson, Berkeley and Frederick counties surround them. One such unit, the Continental Morgan Guard from Winchester, Va., is still an element of the Virginia Guard today.

As word of the raid spreads, other militia troops arrive by train, some from as far away as Richmond. However, U.S. Marines, under the command of Army Col. Robert E. Lee, arrive and storm the firehouse killing or capturing the raiders.

Brown is captured and later tried for treason, convicted and quickly hanged in Charlestown, Va. (now W.Va.). During this period he is guarded by several hundred Virginia militia against the possibility of other raiders trying to free him, though no such attack occurs. Because of his raid and the fear of other attempts to encourage slave revolts, volunteer militia units in the South rise sharply before the Civil War.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Heroes In Action

According Merriam-Webster’s On-Line, a hero is a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities; one that shows great courage.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor, 25, of Garden Grove , Calif. , died Sept. 29 while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Ramadi , Iraq .

Monsoor was a Navy SEAL assigned to a West-Coast based command

Monsoor gave his life in order to save the lives of his brothers in arms. An Iraqi insurgent threw a grenade into a position occupied by Monsoor and three other SEALS. According to a report in the Associated Press Monsoor was struck in the chest by the grenade. Monsoor immediately threw himself on top of the grenade saving the lives of the other three. Two other SEALs where injured and the fourth was unhurt.

From Rear Adm. Joe Maguire, USN - Commander Naval Special Warfare Command, "On behalf of the entire Naval Special Warfare community, we mourn the loss of Master at Arms Second Class (SEAL) Michael A. Monsoor, who died conducting some of our military's most important missions. It's been said that we

cannot decide whether we live or die - we know one day we will die - but as people, as men and warriors, we can only decide what we will die for. This Sailor along with our two wounded teammates chose a life of significant meaning -- to defend freedom and protect America and its allies from terrorism. We grieve with and support the family and friends who support our warriors on a daily basis. We hope that in time Michael's family is comforted in knowing that he died fighting for what he believed in and we will not forget his sacrifice."

According to The Navy Times, Monsoor was a native of Garden Grove , Calif. , and joined the service in March 2001, according to Navy records. He was a member of BUD/S class 250, and had been serving with SEAL Team 3 since April 2005.

Monsoor is the second SEAL to die in Iraq .

Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor, the definition of the word hero.

May you RIP, and may God comfort your family and loved ones. You shall be missed.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Iraqi Soldiers distribute school supplies

BAGHDAD — For many Iraqis, the only face of the Iraqi Security Force they see is the one patrolling the streets looking for suspected insurgents enforcing the law.

To help children see their more human, caring side, Iraqi Soldiers from Lakeside 3rd Brigade, 5th Iraqi Army Division recently visited two schools in Hamrin, in Northern Diyalah province. The Soldiers talked to children about the importance of staying in school, and handed out school supplies. Each school also happily accepted new soccer balls.

"They’re the ones that are going to be leading Iraq's future tomorrow," said Col. Yas, the 3rd Brigade, 5th IAD, G-5, through an interpreter during a visit to a Hamrin secondary school. "They should side with the Iraqi Army and the Iraqi Police and not side with the terrorists."

Some children were shy, others whimpered at the sight of the Soldiers, others still were eager to talk and mingle with the troops. But, as soon as the school supplies were brought into the room, each child smiled and anxiously awaited their turn to receive their treasure -- a few pencils, a sharpener, an eraser, a ruler and a pair of scissors.

"A lot of the towns see the Iraqi Army out and about but they see them doing kinetic-type operations," said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Eric Viburs, on site to support the Iraqi Soldiers. "They see them doing cordon and searches; they see them doing (traffic control points) and searching cars. I think it's important for the kids to see the softer side of the Iraqi Army. They live amongst them. They serve the Iraqi people. I think it’s important for the kids to see that."

The Iraqi Army patrol ultimately voiced their message to the young students that day: we are here to help, "We are on your side."

Saturday, October 14, 2006

NGAUS Legislative Update: TRICARE!

House - check, Senate - check, President Bush - still waiting……We are on the edge of our seats ready to celebrate this enormous legislative accomplishment in the National Defense Authorization Act of FY 2007. Members of the National Guard will no longer be categorized into different levels of healthcare benefits. Every National Guard member and their family will soon be eligible for TRICARE health coverage at a 28 percent cost-share. Pending signature of the President, this coverage will be available no later than October 1, 2007. Our thanks to everyone who joined the fight to achieve this long sought after health care benefit by sending letters or emails to their elected representatives on this important issue. Topping the charts for the highest number of emails sent using our NGAUS “Write to Congress” feature on our web site were Tennessee, Ohio, and Georgia. Congratulations for making a difference!

NGAUS also owes a great deal to the Senate and House champions who did so much to bring about this stunning accomplishment on behalf of the members of the Guard and Reserve. We would like to salute, from the House, Mr. Taylor, Mr. Tom Davis, Mr. Wilson, Mr. Turner, Mr. Latham and Mr. Tim Ryan along with all of their colleagues. In the Senate, we acknowledge the leadership of Mr. Graham, Mr. Leahy, Mr. DeWine, Mrs. Clinton and a host of senators past and present who worked to bring about this legislation. NGAUS and the Adjutants General Association thank you for seven years of unrelenting effort. And, if any of these individuals are your elected officials, please take time to express your thanks for their support.

For more information on TRICARE, visit the NGAUS web site: www.ngaus.org.

What’s Happening In Congress?
Congress is currently in recess until the midterm elections. Here is a quick glance at some important dates for Congress:

Congressional Calendar
Nov. 7 – Election Day
Nov. 9 - Reconvenes for introduction of bills only
Nov. 13 - Congress returns to work
Nov. 17 - Thanksgiving recess target
Dec. 4 - Congress returns this week if necessary to complete work

What’s Happening At NGAUS?
This week we said “farewell” to our Air Programs Lobbyist, Andy Vanlandingham. Andy represented the Air National Guard for NGAUS on Capitol Hill for two and a half years. The NGAUS legislative department was honored to have Andy as a member of our team. We wish him well with his new responsibilities at the Pentagon.

128th Resolutions Online
The Fiscal Year 2008 Resolutions can now be viewed on the Legislative Program’s portion of the NGAUS website www.ngaus.org. Our thanks to all the state associations that submitted new resolutions or co-sponsored existing resolutions, and to the delegates who participated in the resolutions meetings at the 128th General Conference in Albuquerque. And, a special thanks to our Resolutions Committee Chairs; Joint - Brig. Gen. Hugh Broomall, Air - Colonel Michael Morgan, and Army - Lt. Colonel James Lewis. They did a great job of ensuring the resolutions process was conducted properly and in a very thorough manner. Be sure to take a look at these resolutions and familiarize yourself with the future issues the NGAUS staff will be pursuing during the 2008 budget process.

What Can You Do?
Election Day is just around the corner. All 435 members of the House of Representative, 33 of our 100 Senators, and 36 state governors, along with many other locally elected positions will be decided during the upcoming mid-term elections. Political freedom and our democratic form of government is something that members of the military have been fighting for since the founding of our country. Be sure to educate yourself on the issues and the candidates in your area…and get out to vote on November 7th.

Providing NGAUS members with effective and knowledgeable representation on Capitol Hill.


NGAUS Notes: Oct. 13, 2006

Rep. Ike Skelton Receives Association's Highest Honor

Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, received the Harry S. Truman award during a luncheon in his honor Tuesday, for his legislative efforts and advocacy for the Guard on Capitol Hill.

The luncheon was held at The National Guard Memorial.

"Our values, our principles and our determination to succeed as a free and democratic society are directly attributable to our people and to our leaders," said Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger, NGAUS chairman of the board, during the ceremony. "Congressman Skelton is one of those leaders who has distinguished himself by his daily passion for ensuring the defense of our nation."

Maj. Gen. King Sidwell, Missouri adjutant general, nominated the congressman for the association's top honor.

General Sidwell cited Mr. Skelton's longstanding commitment to improve military pay, health care and quality of life for all service personnel. He also lauded the congressman's stand against Army and Air Force attempts to reduce Army and Air Guard personnel and equipment.

The 15-term congressman also was recognized for his pivotal role in the development of the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986.

Fortunate to have met the 33rd president on several occasions - his father was a close friend - Mr. Skelton noted President Truman's love for history and its importance.

"I have urged the military through the years, [through] book lists and other manners, to become historians," he said. "If you understand strategy, if you understand operational art, if you understand tactics, you're going to do well, because chances are [others] have been there before in these types of conflicts."

Golfers Brave Bad Weather at NGEF Tournament

Heavy rain didn't dampen the spirits of die-hard golfers at the 8th
Annual National Guard Educational Foundation (NGEF) Golf Tournament on
Oct. 6.

Tom Tucker, Harold A. Grossnickle, retired Col. Bill Burks and retired
Col. Mac Fairchild placed first, winning the Dick Alexander Trophy.

The event allows Guard supporters to help raise proceeds for the NGEF
and the National Guard Youth Foundation.

The tournament would not be possible without sponsor support:
    Alenia North America; Allison Transmission; AM General Corporation; Applied Industrial Technologies; Armor Holdings Aerospace & Defense; Awards of Excellence; The Boeing Company; J.B. Bott; Tom Brady; Carleton Life Support; Comtech Mobile Datacom Corporation; The Conaway Group LLC; Donohoe Real Estate Services; DRS Technologies Inc.; retired Brig. Gen. Robert and Mrs. Barbara Dutko; Dynamics Research Corporation; Environmental Engineering & Construction Inc.; Geppetto Catering; retired Brig. Gen. Richard Green; Lt. Col. Wayne Hunt and Mrs. Liz Hunt; ING Direct; retired Brig. Gen. Stephen Koper; Maj. Gen. Roger Lempke; Lewis O. King & Associates; Lingenfelter Four; Lockheed Martin; MACE Enterprises LLC; Military Personnel Services Corporation; MMI-Federal Marketing Service Corporation; NGAUS IT; Northrop Grumman Corporation; Oshkosh Corporation; Phoenix Park Hotel & Dubliner Pub; Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation; The Arnold Group; The MINDS Group; The SPECTRUM Group; Tom Tucker Consulting; TriWest Healthcare Alliance; and W.L. Gore & Associates Inc.

Guard Recruiting Surpassed Most Expectations in FY 2006

The National Guard recruited 19,000 more citizen-soldiers and Airmen in 2006 than it did last year and exceeded its retention goals by record numbers.

Both the Air and Army Guard attained 98.9 percent of their combined authorized strength of 456,800.

"The National Guard continues to demonstrate its ability to recruit and retain a quality force despite the demands of simultaneous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as unprecedented missions at home such as support for border security and response to natural disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires," said Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, Guard Bureau chief.

When General Blum became chief in April 2003, the force had fallen 20 percent below its goals.

The Army Guard experienced a net growth of 13,111 soldiers during 2006, and it surpassed its 34,875 reenlistment goal of 34,875 by more than 6,200.

Both the Army and Air Guard also exceeded their attrition rate goals of 18 percent.

The Air Guard lost just under 11 percent of its force, and the Army Guard's attrition was 17.6 percent.

Officials credited increased bonuses, robust recruiting efforts and marketing campaigns for the upturn.

For example, non-prior service bonuses increased from $10,000 to $20,000 and prior service bonuses jumped from $5,000 to $15,000 in the Army Guard. Retention bonuses also increased from $5,000 to $15,000.

The Army Guard also trained an additional 2,400 noncommissioned officers for its recruiting and retention force from August 2004 to August 2006.

Jump Start Spots Now Available for Air Guardsmen

The National Guard Bureau recently announced that Air Guardsmen can deploy to support the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol as part of Operation Jump Start along the Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas borders.

Information on short- and long-term tours is available through Air Guard units' logistics and readiness offices.

Approximately 6,000 Guard members support the Southwest border operation. To date, the Guard has helped U.S. Customs and the Border Patrol apprehend more than 13,000 aliens, seize nearly 200 vehicles and more than 42,000 pounds of drugs. The Guard, however, is not involved in any direct law enforcement activities, such as apprehensions.

The mission includes logistical and administrative support, operating detection systems, providing mobile communications, augmenting intelligence analysis efforts, building and installing security infrastructure and providing education and training. Airmen should check with their unit's logistics and readiness office for specific assignments. Not all Air Force specialties are involved in the operation, but most Airmen can deploy in some supportive role.

NGAUS History

As keynote speaker for the 98th NGAUS General Conference in Washington, D.C., in 1976, President Ford reaffirmed his pledge to upgrade Guard equipment and manpower.
Since we are giving the Army National Guard and Air National Guard greater responsibility, we have to give you the best training and best combat ready equipment as well," Mr. Ford said. "We can never again afford to treat our National Guard as the poor relatives of our regular forces. Hand-me-down weapons are not enough for the Guard."

He also said Total Force is vital to military preparedness.

This Week in Guard istory

October 10, 1968: At fire support base "Thunder II" in Vietnam, New Hampshire's Battery B, 3rd Battalion, 197th Artillery, one of eight Army Guard units to serve in Vietnam, fired the battalion's first mission. During the course of its tour, the 3-197th would support the 1st Infantry, 1st Cavalry, 101st Airborne, and Army of the Republic of Vietnam divisions as well as the 35th Special Forces Group. Six of its Guard members would be killed in action during the unit's one-year tour. According to author Michael Doubler in I Am the Guard, 2,729 Army Guard soldiers from the eight units went to Vietnam, but an additional 4,000 soldiers deployed as replacements by the war's end. Originally, President Johnson was reluctant to send Guardsmen to Vietnam and instead wanted to rely on active-component troops and draftees. In 1966 and 1967, Mr. Doubler writes, the Defense Department pressed hard to get Guardsmen into the fight, but the White House resisted. But in early 1968, the Viet Cong launched the Tet Offensive, which American forces eventually turned back. But this surprise convinced the White House that reserve forces were needed.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

ISF shuts down insurgent financial operation

BAGHDAD — Local police, supported by special Iraqi Army forces, conducted a raid Oct. 9 in Tikrit against a local hawala allegedly used by individuals and businesses to provide financial support to insurgent groups and detained 16 individuals.

The hawala, a local financial system for banking and money exchange, was allegedly being used by insurgents and criminals to hide money made through illegal activity and illegally funneled into Iraq . The daylight raid was based on tips from Iraqi citizens.

Iraqi Police and Army forces, with coalition advisers, shut down the suspected illegal financial activity which was directly supporting foreign fighters and the ongoing insurgency. This support was directly responsible for attacks targeting Iraqi civilians as well as Iraqi Security and Coalition forces.

No significant damage was done in the area and there were no civilian, Iraqi forces or Coalition forces casualties.

This operation is an example of the resolve of Iraqi citizens to stop the illegal and violent activity bringing harm to their communities and demonstrates the increased ability of the Iraqi Security Forces to target and combat insurgent activity.

Written by MNF-I.

DNA confirms death of al-Qaeda Bagram fugive

BAGHDAD, – Ground forces have verified the death of Mahmoud Ahmed Mohammed Al-Rashid, also known as Umar Faruq, through DNA testing.

During a raid, Sept 25 in Basrah, ground forces killed Mahmoud Ahmed Mohammed Al-Rashid Faruq. As forces maneuvered to the objective, they received small-arms fire from suspected terrorists. Forces killed an individual wielding a firearm as they reached the objective. After taking photographs and gathering DNA evidence from the individual, ground forces left the suspected terrorist remains at the site. It was later determined through DNA gathered the individual killed was Umar Faruq.

Hat tip: MNF-I and Centcom.

NGAUS Legislative Summary of FY 2007

NGAUS Legislative Summary of the FY 2007 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and Defense Appropriations Bills.
The FY2007 defense budget cycle recently culminated in Congress when both Chambers voted to approve the authorization and appropriations conference reports, and were then signed by the President.

The process begins in early February when the Presidents Budget (PB) is delivered to Congress, establishing the baseline from which NGAUS determines the resources and policies not included in the budget that our staff will lobby for on behalf of our members.

This year was unique because the PB implemented the strategy outlined in the 2005 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), which was released during the same time period. However, the contents of the QDR, some of which had been leaked to the press, soon became the top priority for NGAUS because the Army was proposing to cut Army National Guard (ARNG) end strength by 17,000 positions and assign support missions to six of our brigade combat teams (BCT) - without the benefit of input or debate by National Guard leaders!

The battle was on when Brig. Gen. Steve Koper (Ret.), president of NGAUS, fired off letters to key members of Congress, adjutant’s generals, and others alerting them to this unwarranted attack on our force structure. During the months to follow, the Pentagon would do some serious back-peddling and eventually promise to fund 350,000 soldiers as long as the ARNG could recruit to that level.

As an adjunct to that uncoordinated maneuver by the Department and similar experiences such as the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), the Senate National Guard Caucus, led by Senator’s Bond and Leahy, introduced the National Defense Enhancement and National Guard Empowerment Act of 2006 to help bolster the influence of the National Guard in the Pentagon by obtaining a permanent "seat at the table" for Guard leadership.

NGAUS, along with the Adjutants General Association of the United States (AGAUS), National Governors Association (NGA), and allies from both the House and Senate worked diligently to pass this important legislation, while the Pentagon worked just as hard behind the scenes to ensure its defeat. Ultimately, the issue would be referred to the Commission of the National Guard and Reserves (CNGR) for further study and a report back date to Congress of March 2007.

Although ARNG force structure, Empowerment and TRICARE were in the spotlight this year, I can assure you that our staff vigorously pursued all of our legislative priorities.

Some of those priorities include Joint Cargo Aircraft (JCA), reset funding for equipment, full time manning, tax breaks for employers, reduced age for retirement pay, bonuses, Chinook and Blackhawk helicopters, Bradley upgrades, Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) for C-130’s, Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar for F-15’s, Satellite Communications (SATCOM) for A-10’s, and much more.

We also coordinated our efforts with the NGA to oppose the proposed legislation that would allow the President to activate the National Guard during natural disasters "without" the consent of the governor.

And, although the final legislation did include changes to the Insurrection Act that would allow the President to activate the National Guard during a natural disaster, terrorist attack, epidemic or other public health emergency (without the consent of the governor), it is under the condition that the state is unable to maintain public order, and the violence obstructed the execution of the laws of the United States.

Additionally, the NGAUS staff attended almost half of the state association conferences, helped facilitate state delegation visits to the Hill, worked closely with the NGAUS task forces and resolutions committees, linked industry with state associations to formulate new resolutions, and improved our working relationship with the National Guard Bureau Legislative Liaison (NGB/LL) team, and our sister veterans associations. It was certainly a very busy year!

If you were in the audience for one of our legislative update briefings this year, you may be familiar with the following statement on the final slide…Our "future" is in the hands of all of us…working together to ensure a strong and viable National Guard. This statement is important, because the results of this legislative season were achieved by "all of us", NGAUS, EANGUS, AGAUS, NGA, state delegations, industry, individual members and so many more, working together to obtain the resources necessary for readiness and quality of life for our soldiers, airmen and their families.

Defense Appropriations:
The appropriations bill was signed into law by the President on 29 September 2006. The House and Senate conferees agreed that National Guard forces are integral to our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and play a critical role in our nation’s response to natural disasters. To that end, Congress provided $75M for the ARNG and $75M for the ANG to fund some of our top priorities such as: $8.25M for UH-60 A to UH-60 L Conversions, $2.6M for M915 Tractor Trucks, $6M for Mobile Approach Control Systems, $12M for Block 42 Engine Upgrades, $6M for C130 LAIRCM and a long list of other important equipment. In addition, $72M was provided for F-15C AESA radars.

The conferees also appropriated $72M in procurement funds for the Army’s Future Cargo Aircraft (FCA) (Title III), and $15.8M in RDT&E funds for the Air Force’s Light Cargo Aircraft (LCA) program (Title IV). And, $82.8M was appropriated for the ANG portion of Predator UAV funding (Title IX), and $95M for five ARNG UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters.

The conferees were very concerned about the Department’s proposal to reduce the number of ARNG brigade combat teams from 34 to 28 and strongly urge the Department of the Army to continue its examination of combat brigade requirements with the full participation and cooperation of both active and Guard officials at all levels. The conferee’s will closely monitor this issue over the coming months to ensure that sufficient funding is provided to field the number of Guard combat brigades necessary to meet its force generation and state security requirements.

The conferees fully funded the Army National Guard authorized end strength level of 350,000, and restored the bulk of funding cuts to the ARNG from PDM III. Title IX added Guard Manpower Buy Back funding in the amount of $251M in ARNG personnel and $220M in ARNG O&M.

A 2.2 percent across-the-board pay raise was approved for all military personnel, which matched the Presidents budget request.

Finally, to accomplish reset as quickly as possible and ensure military readiness, the conferees directed $2,940,000,000 for Title IX procurement funds to be available for the Army National Guard and Army Reserve, and that $500,000,000 of those funds shall be available for the purposes identified in the House Report 109-504 under the heading "National Guard and Reserve Equipment" to fund the National Guard’s "Essential 10 Equipment Requirements." The Chief of the National Guard Bureau is also directed to submit a report specifying the items to be procured with this funding, and a fielding plan not later than 60 days after enactment of the Act. The Department of Defense is directed to submit to the Congressional defense committees not later than nine months after enactment of the Act (i.e., 29 June 2007) a report on how the Department has obligated funds and provided the equipment designated for the National Guard in the budget submission and accompanying justification materials.

A more detailed analysis of the appropriations act will be posted on the NGAUS web site for your review.

National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA):
The 2007 NDAA contained some good news for the National Guard and put off some important legislative action for a later date.

The good news is a final victory with the authorization of expanded eligibility of selected reserve members under the TRICARE Standard program.

The bill provides coverage under the TRICARE Standard program to all members of the Selected Reserves and their families while in a non-active duty status. Participants would be required to pay a premium that would be 28 percent of the total amount determined by the Secretary of Defense as being reasonable for the TRICARE coverage. This section does not extend TRICARE eligibility to reservists who were also federal employees entitled to Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan coverage under title 5, United States Code. Further, this section repeals the three tiered cost share TRICARE program for reserves established by the fiscal year 2006 National Defense Authorization Act and will be effective 1 October 2007.

NGAUS owes a great deal to the Senate and House champions who did so much to bring about this stunning accomplishment on behalf of the members of the Guard and Reserve. We would like to salute, from the House, Mr. Taylor, Mr. Tom Davis, Mr. Wilson, Mr. Turner, Mr. Latham and Mr. Tim Ryan along with all of their colleagues. In the Senate we acknowledge the leadership of Mr. Graham, Mr. Leahy, Mr. DeWine, Mrs. Clinton and the whole host of senators past and present who worked to bring about this legislation. NGAUS and the Adjutants General Association thank you for seven years of unrelenting effort.

On the other hand, it was very disappointing to learn that the conferees deferred the National Guard Empowerment Act to the Commission of National Guard and Reserves for their recommendation and report back NLT 1 March 2007. NGAUS, AGAUS and our friends in Congress worked tirelessly to promote this legislation that would have elevated the Chief of NGB to four stars, designated the three-star Deputy of U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) as a National Guard officer, and several other actions that would help ensure the Guard is "at the table." NGAUS will continue to lead the way on this issue because it is vitally important to our future as an institution.

The Joint Cargo Aircraft (JCA) program combines the initiative to procure Future Cargo Aircraft (FCA) for the Army National Guard to replace aging C-23’s, C-26, and a portion of the C-12 fleet to relieve excessive demands on the CH-47 for intra-theater lift, and the interest by the Air Force to use the Light Cargo Aircraft (LCA) for its intra-theater airlift and provide new missions for ANG units that lost aircraft due to BRAC. Although the initial budget request earmarked $109.2M for the Army to procure three FCA, and $15.8M for the Air Force to establish a program, the conferees agreed that, although the Army initiated the program, the $109.2M would be authorized for the Air Force since the Army and Air Force signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to merge the two programs and that the Air Force is conducting an F-series (functional analysis) study to define the broader requirement for the aircraft which would provide intra-theater airlift mission support for U. S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM). The conferees also indicated that it would be premature to procure aircraft until appropriate intra-theater lift studies are complete.

Another initiative of great interest to our members is the reduction of age to receive retirement pay. Last year, Senator Chambliss introduced legislation that would have reduced the age to receive retirement pay by three months for every 90 days a member of the National Guard or Reserves served in combat. NGAUS supported that initiative with a clear caveat that we did not think it appropriate to create different "classes" of Guard members (those who are called to federal service vs. those who have not yet been called), and that every member of the National Guard was doing their part to support the war effort and homeland defense. That legislation was eliminated during conference negotiations.

The conferees expanded the Presidential Reserve Call-Up Authority from 270 to 365 days. And with respect to the balance of equipment, the bill requires the SECDEF to submit a report NLT 1 April 2007 regarding the priority distribution strategy for replacing National Guard equipment, and requires the Chief of NGB to comment on the Secretary of the Army report to congress on Army progress in budgeting for repair and replacement of equipment used in the GWOT as well as equipment for transformation/modularity and to replenish preposition stocks.

With respect to compensation and personnel benefits, the bill authorizes Service Secretaries to pay a second monthly BAH in lieu of per diem to reserve component members without dependents mobilized in support of contingency operations, and extends a wide variety of RC bonuses and special pay.

This year, our staff negotiated with several members of Congress for their support to introduce legislation that would reduce the age to receive retirement pay, with the preferred method being a one year reduction for every two years served beyond twenty. However, despite our input, Senator Chambliss’ language, as described earlier, prevailed. Unfortunately, that legislation was eliminated during conference as well. Our staff will continue to vigorously pursue this issue.

More detailed information regarding these pieces of legislation can be found on our web site at NGAUS.org.

"We Serve"