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Friday, December 22, 2006

NGAUS Notes: 12/22/2006

Robert M. Gates Sworn In as New Defense Secretary.
Robert M. Gates was sworn in as the nation’s 22nd secretary of defense in a ceremony at the Pentagon Monday.

After President Bush introduced Mr. Gates as “an experienced and thoughtful leader,” Vice President Richard B. Cheney administered the oath of office.

He was officially sworn in at the White House earlier Monday in a private event.

“It is an honor to have the opportunity to work with the people in this department—dedicated professionals whose overriding priority is the defense of our nation,” Mr. Gates said upon taking the oath at the Pentagon.

The Defense Department is carrying on many different activities, all of which are important, but the most pressing concern is the situation in Iraq, he said.

Since being confirmed by the Senate, Gates has participated in National Security Council meetings on Iraq, received a number of Pentagon briefings, and discussed the situation and way forward in Iraq with the president.

Everyone wants to find a way to bring America’s troops home, Mr. Gates said, but the United States cannot afford to fail in the Middle East.

“ Failure in Iraq at this juncture would be a calamity that would haunt our nation, impair our credibility, and endanger Americans for decades to come,” he said.

Two days after the ceremony, Mr. Gates went to Iraq with Gen. Peter Pace, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, to meet with troops, generals and Iraqi leaders to assess the situation on the ground.

The new defense secretary is no stranger to Iraq and U.S. commanders there. He spoke with many of them as a member of the bipartisian Iraq Study Group, which reported to the president and Congress earlier this month.

One option for dealing with the violence in Iraq is to “surge” more U.S. troops into the region. Mr. Gates indicated the idea has merit, but he’ll make make no recommendations to the president until after his trip.

Departing Iraq today, he said he was very impressed with the U.S. troops he met. He offered them a holiday saulte.

“As we enter this holiday weekend, I’d simply like to express my admiration to the men and women in uniform and to their families,” he said.

Air Guard Leaders Explore Ways to Reset Force.
The challenges of resetting the Air National Guard became more apparent when senior leaders nationwide gathered in Baltimore Dec. 11 to 13 for their annual conference.

More than 1,000 leaders from all 50 states and U.S. territories, including adjutants general, wing and unit commanders, command chief master sergeants and others, listened to a detailed explanation of the Air Guard’s future force.

Resetting the force includes reorganizing missions, manpower, equipment and training to meet the needs of the 21st century.

For the first time, leaders were told of the proposed reset of the Air Guard on a national perspective.

Every state and territory will be affected by the reset, said Lt. Gen.
Craig R. McKinley, Air Guard director.

He provided several examples of how airmen are already resetting the force, including flying MQ-1 Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. He also expressed his confidence in the leadership's ability to move forward.

The plan addresses the combined effects of the Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC), Total Force Initiatives and the 2005 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR).

Future mission changes will affect fulltime and traditional positions across the nation, a main concern of the leadership at the conference.

“This has not been an easy process. Because of what BRAC and QDR have done, we need to get through it,” General McKinley said.

Most senior leaders agreed the reset is essential to the future of the Air Guard. And the timeliness, General McKinley said, was mostly due to the desire to move to the next step.

Outgoing Defense Secretary Honors Guard Before Leaving Pentagon.
During his final week as defense secretary, Donald H. Rumsfeld recognized Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, National Guard Bureau chief, with the Defense Distinguished Service Medal for the “amazing response of the National Guard” following Hurricane Katrina.

Mr. Rumsfeld also recognized and thanked 31 other military and civilian Pentagon workers Dec. 13 for their contributions during his six years as defense secretary.

“In recognizing the folks here, please know that we are honored that they were part of a team,” he said. “We honor each of you.”

Defense officials credited General Blum with coordinating the Guard’s unprecedented domestic response to a natural disaster. In all, Guardsmen from all 54 states and territories responded after Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast Aug. 29, 2005.

Officials noted that the mobilization occurred while more than 80,000 Guardsmen were deployed to combat zones.

“[General Blum] picked them up and moved them out: 50,000 Guard members,” Mr. Rumsfeld. “It was a spectacular job.”

General Blum accepted the award on behalf of “460,000 soldiers and airmen of the National Guard in the 50 states, two territories, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and District of Columbia that made our response to Hurricane Katrina possible.”

“I was never more proud of being the chief of the National Guard Bureau than at that time,” he added. “It was our finest hour.”

Legislative Department Seeks Air Programs Lobbyist.
NGAUS seeks an individual experienced in legislative affairs to be responsible for lobbying Air National Guard issues on Capitol Hill, while pursuing member resolutions of the NGAUS legislative agenda. Duties will include direct lobbying, strategy development and implementation, coalition development and administrative duties relevant to the Air Programs issue area.

Successful candidate will have 3 to 5 years legislative/political experience and strong knowledge of the defense community, a bachelor’s degree, preferably in political science or government affairs.

Strong advocacy and communication skills are a must, and military experience is a plus.

Send cover letter and resume to:
    National Guard Association of the United States
    Legislative Director
    One Massachusetts Ave., N.W.
    Washington, D.C. 20001
Applicants may also apply for the position via e-mail. Send resume to:
Richard Green.

This Week in Guard History.
Dec. 20, 1777—General George Washington selects Valley Forge, Pa., for his army’s winter quarters.

For a time, it appears Washington ’s army wouldn’t make to spring. At least 2,000 of the 12,000-man force die from disease and cold.

Slowly, however, supplies of food and clothing improve. Morale increases on word of an alliance between America and France. It grows further when General Baron Friedrich von Steuben arrives and puts more emphasis on training and discipline.

Most of Washington’s men come from militia backgrounds with little formal military training. But by late spring, they are capable of fighting the British on an even basis.

NGAUS History.
NGAUS and the first National Guard Memorial in Washington, D.C., played a big part in the 100th anniversary of Harry S. Truman ’s birth in 1984.

Within four days of the anniversary, May 8, 1884, association officials celebrated the 25th anniversary of Mr. Truman ’s dedication of the original memorial (the current building occupies the same location) in 1959.

NGAUS combined the two events with a reception, birthday party and Truman library exhibit at the memorial.

The Truman library material arrived at NGAUS in March. The items selected highlighted Truman ’s military career, which began in the Missouri National Guard.

The display in the Heritage Gallery was open through mid-September when the artifacts were returned to the Truman Library in Independence, Mo.

NGAUS participation in the Truman Centennial was in cooperation with the Truman Centennial Committee.

Produced weekly by the NGAUS communications department. Comments and
questions should be directed to ngaus@ngaus.org. NGAUS members can sign
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