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Thursday, November 09, 2006

NGAUS Notes: 11/9/2006

White House Shuffles Defense After Election Day Rout.
With leadership changes coming in the House and most likely in the Senate, the White House yesterday made a leadership switch of its own, announcing Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's resignation and the intended nomination of Robert Gates, CIA veteran and president of Texas A&M University, to the post.

"The election has changed many things in Washington, but it has not changed my fundamental responsibility, and that is to protect the American people from attack," President Bush said at a press conference yesterday. "Now, after a series of thoughtful conversations, Secretary Rumsfeld and I agreed that the timing is right for new leadership at the Pentagon."

Mr. Rumsfeld's resignation comes just one week after the president said both Mr. Rumsfeld and Vice President Cheney would serve the remainder of the president's term.

"[M]y answer [last week] was, they're going to stay on," Mr. Bush said. "And the reason why is I didn't want to inject a major decision about this war in the final days of a campaign."

He also said he had not had a final discussion with Mr. Rumsfeld at the time, and he did not meet with Mr. Gates until last weekend at his Crawford, Texas ranch.

Although currently a university president, Mr. Gates is no stranger to Washington.

He served as CIA director from 1991 until 1993 and deputy director from 1986 until 1989. He also served at the National Security Council and was assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser to President George H.W. Bush.

Newsweek reported last year that the president asked Mr. Gates to become the new director of national intelligence, but Mr. Gates declined, choosing to stay at Texas A&M. Instead, John D. Negroponte became director in April 2005.

A big question mark now is how this will affect Pentagon and the country's approach to the war on terror.

Under almost constant criticism for his "stay the course" attitude, the president's intended nominee reportedly could bring a different perspective to the Pentagon.

One indication of this is his participation as a member of the bi-partisan Iraq Study Group.

Co-chairs include James A. Baker III, former secretary of state under President George H.W. Bush, and Lee H. Hamilton, former Democratic congressman and 9/11 Commission vice chairman.

Retired Lt. Gen. Roger C. Schultz, former Army Guard director, serves as a senior military adviser for the group.

In October, Mr. Baker said on This Week With George Stephanopoulos his group is working hard to come up with a consensus recommendation on Iraq.

"We're taking a look at other alternatives because I happen to think it's fair to say that our commission believes that there are alternatives between the stated alternatives - the ones that are out there in the political debate of 'stay the course' and 'cut and run,'" he said. "We're going to come up, hopefully, with some recommendations that the congress and the president and the country can look at [and] make it public the day we present it to the president."

Nov. 11 Offers Time to Honor Troops from Today and Yesterday.
Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary R. James Nicholson reminded the country yesterday that Veterans Day (Saturday) is especially important as troops put their lives on the line for freedom at home.

"We are a nation at war against an enemy that has openly vowed its desire to destroy us," he said. "They mean it; we know that because they have taken steps to do that, attacking us in different ways. So we have fellow citizens out there on the front lines trying to protect our freedom and procure freedom for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan."

Demands on the force give special importance to this year's Veterans Day observances and a renewed national commitment to honor and support its more than 24 million veterans, he said.

President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 Armistice Day in 1919 to commemorate the end of hostilities in World War I one year earlier. During the early 1950s, the name was changed to Veterans Day, and the observance was expanded to honor veterans of all wars.

Veterans Day upholds a longstanding American tradition that began when Gen. George Washington acknowledged the "debt of gratitude" the country owed its troops who served in the Continental Army, Mr. Nicholson said.

"And that has taken the form of our citizens compensating our veterans for any diminution they have suffered as a result of their service, whether physical or mental, and [that] it will provide them with continuous health care throughout their life for having served their country," he said.

Deadlines Loom to Mail Overseas Holiday Packages.
Nov. 13 is the deadline for sending holiday packages to troops stationed overseas using Parcel Post to all Air/Army Post Office (APO) or Fleet Post Office (FPO) zip codes. Deadlines for Space Available Mail and Parcel Airlift Mail are Nov. 27 and Dec. 4, respectively.

The U.S. Postal Service is encouraging early deadlines to make sure that packages reach their destination in time for the holidays.

The U.S. Postal Service introduced a free Military Care Kit, or "Mili-kit" in 2004 to make it easier for military families and friends to send care packages overseas. Each kit contains four Priority Mail boxes, six Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes, 10 Priority Mail labels, one roll of Priority Mail tape and 10 customs forms with envelopes.

This kit may be ordered by calling the USPS Expedited Package Supply Center at 1-800-610-8734. The U.S. Postal Service has shipped more than 150,000 kits over the last two years.

The Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes included in the kit can be shipped to any APO/FPO in the world, regardless of weight, for $8.10.

All packages and mail must be addressed to individual service members, as required by U.S. Defense Department regulations. A complete APO/FPO holiday mailing deadline matrix and additional information are available at www.usps.com.

This Week in Guard History.
Nov. 8, 1942: Algeria - As part of Operation Torch, the Iowa's 34th Division, which included personnel from Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, assaults the coast of this French colony but meets little resistance.

Controlled by the Vichy French government, a regime under Hitler, some officers try to resist the American landing, but most of their troops join the Allies.

By January 1943, the 34th moves across North Africa but encounters fierce opposition from the vaunted German Afrika Corps in Tunisia. Once the Germans are defeated, the division prepares itself for its next mission, the invasion of Italy.

After making an assault landing at Salerno, the 34th spends the rest of the war slogging its way up the Italian "boot" ending the war northwest of Milan. Nine members of the 34th receive the Medal of Honor and the division suffers 14,895 total causalities.

NGAUS History.
After Brig. Gen. George W. Wingate became NGAUS president at age 38, he learned that no matter what legislative proposal the association might publicly make, persons both in and out of Congress would have their suspicions of ulterior motives.

At the 1881 conference in Philadelphia, General Wingate declared that NGAUS efforts to bring cohesiveness and uniformity to the Guard resulted in "the fear that the reform we propose contemplates an attack on the liberties of the country, by organizing and arming some bloodthirsty and mysterious organizations for the purpose of enabling the states to defy the authority of the national government."

On one of his trips to Washington, D.C., at his own expense to lobby Congress, General Wingate had trouble convincing some people that he was not hiding a big arms deal, or munitions contract.

Produced weekly by NGAUS.
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