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Friday, January 12, 2007

NGAUS Notes: 1/12/2007

Officials Change Some Guard, Reserve Mobilization Practices.
Army National Guard soldiers will now serve a maximum of 12 consecutive months on active duty under mobilization changes announced by Pentagon officials yesterday.

The new timetable means mobilized units will train, deploy, do the mission, come home and demobilize all in 365 days, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said.

But the changes also mean some Army Guard soldiers who’ve already been mobilized 18 or more months for service in Iraq or Afghanistan are eligible for involuntarily recall.

This would’ve been be near impossible under previous practices, which limited individual involuntary mobilizations to 24 months cumulative under the president’s Sept. 15, 2001, partial mobilization order.

The new rules, which affect units mobilizing from this point forward, manage ground reserve-force mobilizations on a unit basis rather than an individual basis, Mr. Gates said.

They also allow adjutant generals to certify some predeployment training, a step designed to reduce post-mobilization training, which has been as long as six months.

Guard soldiers have long complained they spent much too much time at mobilization stations duplicating training completed at recent unit assemblies.

Believing that some involuntary recall of Guard soldiers was inevitable, NGAUS and many Guard leaders hailed the changes as long overdue.

However, they cautioned that the changes will also increase the urgency of the Army Guard’s need for equipment reset and full-time manning, both of which are critical to premobilization training.

Officials said the “planning objective” for Army Guard and Reserve units remains one year of being mobilized for every five years demobilized.

'Surge' Extends Guard Brigade's Iraq Mission.
At least 4,000 Army National Guard soldiers may spend up to an extra four months in Iraq as part of the president’s troop increase announced Wednesday.

The Minnesota Army National Guard’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division will have its Iraq tour extended up to 125 days, the Defense Department said yesterday.

The announcement affects about 3,000 Minnesota Guardsmen. The extension until August also impacts more than 1,000 Guard soldiers from Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, North Carolina, Nebraska and other states who are deployed with the brigade.

There are currently about 25,000 Army and Air Guardsmen in Iraq, according to the National Guard Bureau.

The Pentagon announcement of the 1st Brigade’s extension came one day after President Bush announced in an address to the nation that he had committed more than 20,000 additional U.S. troops to Iraq, most of them to Baghdad.

The Minnesota National Guard is reaching out aggressively to support affected families, said Lt. Col. Kevin Olson, a Minnesota Guard spokesman.

Those efforts include military family life consultants working with struggling families and a full-time mental health coordinator who, Colonel Olson said, is energizing mental health providers across the state to support the families of deployed Guardsmen.

Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, NGB chief, told reporters Wednesday that Guardsmen would be ready to serve if called upon to support the president’s new strategy.

More than 350,000 Army and Air Guardsmen have been federally mobilized for a wide array of missions since the Sept. 11 attacks.

Defense Secretary Calls for More Active-Component Soldiers, Marines.
The active-component Army and Marine Corps should grow by 92,000 personnel over the next five years, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said during a White House news conference yesterday.

“The president announced last night that he would strengthen our military for the long war against terrorism by authorizing an increase in the overall strength of the Army and Marine Corps,” Mr. Gates said. “I am recommending to him a total increase in the two services of 92,000 soldiers and Marines over the next five years.”

The breakout is 65,000 soldiers and 27,000 Marines.

The move comes only a year after the Army tried to cut Army Guard end strength by 17,000 soldiers. There has been no discussion of increasing the Army Guard.

Army and National Guard Bureau figures indicate that four Army Guard soldiers could be added for the cost to train and maintain one active-component soldier.

Mr. Gates’ plan will make permanent the 30,000 temporary increase in Army end strength and 5,000 increase in the Marine Corps. Then the services will increase in annual increments of 7,000 for the Army and 5,000 for the Marine Corps.

The Army has a current end strength of 512,400, with the Marines at 180,000. Under Mr. Gates’ proposal, the Army’s end strength will grow to 547,000 and the Marines to 202,000.

Army and Marine officials said the services cannot grow forces overnight. Currently, the active-component Army recruits 80,000 young Americans each year with the Marines bringing in 39,000.

Communications Department Seeks Seasoned 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.

This Week in Guard History.
Jan. 8, 1815: Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson, himself a former Tennessee Guardsman, leads a force of Army regulars, volunteer militia, pirates and others in a successful defense of New Orleans from the British Army in the last act of the War of 1812.

Among his militia troops is a unit from Louisiana. Known as the “Battalion of Free Men of Color” its ranks include African Americans, Mulattos, Creoles and Choctaw Indians. Louisiana, a new state in the Union, had under its French colonial government a black militia organization, which was disbanded upon statehood. It is reorganized for the current emergency.

The battalion saw action during the campaign, giving a distinguished account of itself; but once the invasion threat ended it was again disbanded. No nonwhite soldiers would serve in the Louisiana militia until after the start of the Civil War.

NGAUS History.
NGAUS kicked off the biggest blood collection program ever conducted by one organization in May 1966. The association asked Guardsmen to contribute 250,000 pints of blood to support U.S. troops fighting in Vietnam.

The National Guard “Blood for Defense” project was sponsored by NGAUS, with a full endorsement and cooperation from the Defense Department, Red Cross and National Guard Bureau.

Urging all Guardsmen to sign a pledge a give a pint of blood, Maj. Gen. James F. Cantwell, NGAUS president said, “The National Guard has been contributing in a number of ways to the success of our military operations in Southeast Asia.

Now, the ‘Blood for Defense’ program offers still another means by which we can give vital, continuing support to the men who are fighting the Viet Cong.”

Donations were channeled to the 56 Red Cross regional blood centers for processing.
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