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!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Legislative Updates: 2/23/2007

What’s Happening In Congress?

Reducing Reserve Retirement Age.
Two bills have been introduced in the 110th Congress to amend Title 10 to reduce the eligibility age for National Guard and Reserve retirees to receive military retirement pay. Congressman Jim Saxton (NJ) introduced H.R. 690 which would simply lower the eligibility age to 55 years. Identical Saxton bills introduced in previous sessions failed to pass because of their estimated cost. Senator Saxby Chambliss (GA) has introduced S. 548 which would reduce the eligibility age below 60 years by three months for each aggregate of 90 days of active duty performed by a member of the Ready Reserves after September 11, 2001with the eligibility age not to be reduced below 50 years. Under the Chambliss bill, active duty service qualifying for the reduction would include orders for active duty in support of a contingency operation during a war or national emergency under sections 101(a) (13((B) and 12301(d) title 10 or section 502(f) of title 32. Chambliss’ office estimates that this bill, if passed, would cost $400 million over five years.

What’s Happening At NGAUS?

Leg Alert Out on TRICARE Fees.
In an effort to avoid a proposed increase in TRICARE enrollment fees, deductibles, and pharmaceutical co-pays for all members of the National Guard, NGAUS has posted Legislative Alert #07-01. This is a grass roots lobbying technique we use to raise the awareness of the issues important to constituents in every Congress member’s district. Make sure to visit www.NGAUS.org and use the “Write to Congress” feature to communicate this message to your Senators and Representatives. Also, pass along this information to fellow guard members, family members, and friends. They too can use our website to express their disappointment in the proposed healthcare increases to the Armed Forces. NGAUS will track the number of messages sent on this issue and report the results in next weeks LEGIT.

Seeking Legislative Analyst.
The National Guard Association of the United States is seeking a legislative analyst. The ideal candidate will have a bachelor’s degree, a general understanding of the United States Military, and the ability to analyze and interpret issues and language related to the National Guard as found in the Congressional process. In addition, the candidate must possess strong information technology skills, and will be responsible for managing and updating the legislative portion of the NGAUS website at www.ngaus.org. Competitive salary and benefits. Please submit resume to Brig. Gen. Richard Green (ret), NGAUS Legislative Director. Fax - 202-682-9358 or e-mail to Richard Green.

What Can You Do?

Congressional Caucuses.
A Congressional caucus is a group of members of the United States Congress which meet to pursue common legislative objectives. Formally, caucuses are organized Congressional Member Organizations (CMO).

There are two Congressional caucuses that support the National Guard. The U.S. Senate “National Guard” Caucus is co-chaired by Senator’s Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Christopher “Kit” Bond (R-MO) and currently has 84 members. The House of Representatives “Reserve Component”Caucus (181 members), is co-chaired by Representatives Gene Taylor (D-MS) and Steve Buyer (R-IN), and is organized slightly different in that it includes all reserve components.

Caucuses are very important to the National Guard because they serve as a “focal point” for introducing legislation and garnering support for issues of importance to the National Guard.

Recent examples of this support include the National Guard Empowerment Act of 2007, introduced as S.430 in the Senate and H.R.718 in the House of Representatives by National Guard and Reserve caucus leaders; which, to date, has resulted in 24 co-sponsors in the Senate and 33 in the House.

Members of Congressional caucuses are also leading the way to enhance National Guard readiness with efforts such as repealing the changes made to the Insurrection Act in the FY07 Defense Authorization bill, equipment reset, reducing the age reserve component members receive retirement pay and much more.

If your elected officials have already joined one of these caucuses, express your thanks. However, if they haven’t signed up yet, encourage them to do so to demonstrate their support for the citizen soldiers and airmen who are serving our country and readiness of the National Guard.

CACO Hotels.
The Phoenix Park Hotel is booked full for the CACO Conference time frame. The extended cut-off date for group reservations was February 9th. If you have not reserved your room yet there are a number of other hotels in the area. Two hotels close by that you can stay at are the Holiday Inn on The Hill and the Hyatt Regency on New Jersey Ave. NW. Both of these hotels are located just blocks from the NGAUS Memorial Building.

Published by the NGAUS Legislative Staff:
Brig Gen (ret) Richard M. Green, Director
Pete Duffy, Deputy Director
Chris DeBatt, Army Programs
Emily Breitbach, Air Programs
Bernie Phelps, Senior Legislative Analyst

For more information on NGAUS, check out our website: www.NGAUS.org.


Friday, February 23, 2007

NGAUS Notes: 2/23/2007

Insiders Say Panel to Recommend Guard Four-Star.

The Commission on the National Guard and Reserves will announce Thursday that it supports elevation of the Guard Bureau chief to four-stars, according to a CongressDaily story yesterday based on comments from House and Senate aides familiar with the report.

But the commission’s full recommendations will fall well short of endorsing the NGAUS-supported Guard empowerment bill, which includes a Guard seat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

Congress introduced the legislation last year to provide the Guard more input into final Defense Department deliberations.

Instead, the commission—comprised of several with strong ties to the Pentagon—prefers designating the NGB chief as an adviser to the Joint Chiefs chairman.

The recommendation resembles parts of a compromise the Senate approved as an amendment to its fiscal 2007 defense authorization bill.

House and Senate representatives negotiating final bill language eventually referred the matter to the commission last year.

Guard supporters on Capitol Hill have since reintroduced the bill.

The commission will reportedly also reject a provision to give the Guard its own budget authority.

In addition, the commission will suggest the Guard route its homeland security requirements through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to the Pentagon.

DHS officials are not currently part of the Guard’s budget process.

The story also said the commission favors creating a 10-governor advisory council to “report directly to the defense and homeland security secretaries, the White House Homeland Security Council and the National Governors Association."

Congressional aides believe this panel would actually erode the NGB’s power.

DoD Highlights Military Diversity Initiatives.
Clarence A. Johnson, civilian equal employment opportunity director at the Defense Department said yesterday that DoD policies that promote diversity for all service members and civilians have helped make the U.S. military a force to be reckoned with.

At a DoD-sponsored African-American History Month symposium in Washington, he said it’s true because DoD has policies and programs that ensure all military and civilian members are treated fairly.

African-Americans traditionally have looked at military service as a way to serve their country and to get ahead, added Joyce M. Jarrett, provost for Hampton University. And, through the years, “the armed forces took the lead and convinced the nation to be inclusive,” she said.

Joseph Guzman, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for strategic diversity initiatives, said the Air Force has made progress, but it still needs more African-Americans to fill senior military officer and civilian leadership positions.

Maj. Gen. John R. Hawkins III, Army deputy chief of staff for mobility and reserve affairs, said the Army has a plethora of professional positions to offer young college graduates, and ROTC remains a strong program for commissioning junior officers as they graduate from a college or university.

Paul Bowes, a Hampton University graduate, businessman and Vietnam-era Army veteran pressed a proposal for a pilot program that would have non-tactical military vehicles use non-foreign-oil sources of fuel, such as biomass products like ethanol.

“Me being here, communicating and setting up relationships with historically black colleges and universities, is part of it,” Mr. Bowes said.

Negative Media Reports Prompt Renovation Effots at Walter Reed.
Army officials continue recovery efforts at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington after a damning series of articles in The Washington Post outlined serious outpatient facility and care problems this week.

Post reporters Dana Priest and Anne Hull spent four months investigating the center without Water Reed officials’ knowledge or permission.

“Disengaged clerks, unqualified platoon sergeants and overworked case managers fumble with simple needs: feeding soldiers’ families who are close to poverty, replacing a uniform ripped off by medics in the desert sand or helping a brain-damaged soldier remember his next appointment,” they wrote.

The two also highlighted facility problems, such as an injured Army specialist’s room with part of a wall “weighted down with black mold,” in a facility that screams of neglect with “mouse droppings, belly-up cockroaches, stained carpets, cheap mattresses.”

On Monday, Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters that the care of the soldiers is tantamount but admitted shortcomings at the center. He also said DoD leaders werejust made aware of them.

Many critics blamed a cumbersome bureaucracy.

Yesterday, Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley, Army surgeon general, said the Army is attacking the problems at the facility, particularly Building 18, the focus of much of the Post’s story.

Officials also allowed media to tour that building and another outpatient facility at the hospital yesterday as contractors repaired plumbing and painted walls.

General Kiley said some problems are systemic across the Army and DoD but said he would call on service officials and Congress—if needed—to fix the problems.

Legislative Staff Seeks Analyst.
NGAUS is seeking a legislative analyst to work at association headquarters in Washington.

The ideal candidate will: have a bachelor’s degree; be familiar with the congressional process and the military; and be able to analyze Guard-related issues. The candidate must also possess strong computer skills and be familiar with Web content management software.

The association offers a competitive salary and benefits. Interested candidates should submit a resume to retired Brig. Gen. Richard Green, NGAUS legislative director, via fax: 202-682-9358 or e-mail: Richard Green.

NGAUS History.
The NGAUS Executive Council voted overwhelmingly to forward a set of revised grooming standards to the secretary of the Air Force in spring of 1974, which better reflected some of the public’s grooming approaches.

Standards would permit Air Guardsmen to grow hair to touch the ears, but not cover any part of the ears when groomed; allow hair to extend on the back of the head to the middle of the collar; permit hair to grow two inches in bulk; allow sideburns to extend to the lowest part of the ear lobe and to a width not exceeding one and one-half inches at the widest point; and allow mustaches to extend horizontally beyond the corners of the mouth.

The proposed changes were pulled together by a special NGAUS committee that reported its findings during the council’s January meeting.

This Week in Guard History.
Feb. 24, 1991: —The ground offensive of Operation Desert Storm starts with an overwhelming assault across the Saudi desert to outflank the Iraqi forces trapped in Kuwait. Among the field artillery brigades supporting this advance are Arkansas’142nd and Tennessee’s 196th, the only two Guard combat units to fight in the war.

After nearly six weeks of aerial attacks, the Iraqi Army is heavily damaged—its communications and supply lines cut. As the American and Allied armies move into Iraq, Guard units support their efforts by making or repairing roads and by moving fuel to keep the tanks rolling.

In all, 297 Army Guard units, consisting of 37,848 soldiers, serve in the operation.

Produced weekly by the NGAUS communications department. Comments and questions should be directed to NGAUS. NGAUS members can sign up for electronic delivery of NGAUS NOTES at www.ngaus.org.


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Patrols doubled, attacks reduced--ISF, MNF presence provide stability

Feb. 17, 2007.
Multi-National Division – Baghdad PAO
By Master Sgt. Dave Larsen
1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs

CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq – Security patrols doubled over the past week and the effects of violence in Baghdad was reduced as Iraqi security forces and the Multi-National Division – Baghdad implement Operation Fardh Al-Qanoon, (translated, it means “enforcing the law”), MND-B senior officials noted this week.

“Nearly 20,000 security patrols were conducted this week,” said MND-B spokesperson Lt. Col. Scott R. Bleichwehl. “Since the operation started, there has been a reduction in the number of attacks across the Iraqi capital.”

At a Pentagon press briefing conducted via satellite, Maj. Gen. Joseph F. Fil, Jr., also pointed to the relative calm across Baghdad Feb. 16.

“Heading over here (to the press briefing), we’ve only had 19 attacks against our forces,” Fil told the assembled media members. “None of them were effective.”

Bleichwehl said Iraqi police and national police patrols accounted for more than 11,000 of the total patrols mounted from Feb. 10-16.

“We are out in the communities, conducting our clearing operations and meeting with local residents across the city to improve the security situation here,” Bleichwehl said. “The Iraqis are playing a huge role in the day-to-day security operations.”

During the week of Feb. 10-16, 51 operations, at company-level or higher, were conducted in and around the Iraqi capital. Twenty-four of the company-level operations were jointly conducted with Iraqi security and coalition forces working together. More than 600 joint patrols were executed throughout the city.

The increase in operations netted 15 weapons caches during the week, with the largest coming south of Baghdad during Operation Algeria II.

During that operation, conducted Feb. 11, four separate caches were discovered and three dozen insurgent suspects were detained.

The 2nd Brigade, 8th Iraqi Army Division, a supporting Military Transition Team, air support from 4th Squadron, 227th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion and paratroopers from 2nd Battalion, 377th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division all combined to locate four IEDs and one vehicle-borne improvised explosive device during the joint operation. The 36 suspects were also detained for further questioning.

In all, the operation involved more than 400 Iraqi Army troops aimed at helping Iraqi forces establish security in the northern portion of Babil province.

Another major security operation in eastern Baghdad kicked off this week, as Iraqi security forces and MND-B troops continue clearing operations in Adhamiyah. Dubbed Operation Arrowhead Strike VI, the ongoing operation began Feb. 14. Thus far, Bleichwehl said the operation has netted three weapons caches and detained five suspects, further emphasizing the fact that there will be no safe havens for extremists organizations in the Iraqi capital.

Labels: , ,

Legislative Alert #07-01


Immediate Action Required: Contact your members of Congress and urge them to oppose administration proposals to increase TRICARE deductibles, enrollment fees and pharmaceutical co-pays.

During the FY07 defense budget process, the Department of Defense (DOD) proposed to triple TRICARE Prime and TRICARE Standard fees for military retirees under the age of 65. It would also have increased retail pharmacy fees for all TRICARE beneficiaries by almost 70%! Thanks to a full-court press by NGAUS and other veterans associations, Congress prohibited any increases in TRICARE enrollment premiums under TRICARE Prime and TRICARE Reserve Select, and prohibited any increase in co-payments for pharmaceuticals dispensed through the TRICARE retail pharmacy program in FY2007.

The Administration is at it again and has upped the ante by proposing to increase TRICARE fees even more for FY2008. Although the Pentagon hasn’t published any “specific” plan for fee increases, claiming they are waiting on the results of the DoD-appointed Task Force on the Future of Military Health Care, the Defense Budget submitted to Congress in early February assumes a $1.8 billion savings from TRICARE fee increases.

NGAUS strongly opposes these TRICARE fee increases that are nothing more than an attempt to free-up funds for other uses on the backs of retired members and families who have earned this health care benefit with their service and sacrifice.

We need your help now to ensure TRICARE costs do not increase. Contact your members of Congress and alert them to this situation and urge them to support legislation (S.604) introduced by Senator’s Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Chuck Hagel (R-NB), “The Military Health Care Protection Act.” It would place reasonable and affordable caps on enrollment fees, deductibles, and pharmacy co-pays for military retirees. This legislation would also establish that the percentage increase in retiree’s health care fees in any given year should not exceed the percentage of increase in their compensation.

Similar legislation (H.R.579) has been introduced in the House by Representative’s Chet Edwards (D-TX) and Walter Jones (R-NC) that would not only stop any fee increases, but also remove the authority from DOD, shifting that responsibility to Congress. Act now to ensure military retirees will continue to have access to “affordable” health care!


By using the “Write to Congress” feature on the NGAUS Web site at
www.ngaus.org, you can IMMEDIATELY e-mail your elected representatives. A sample letter is included in our “Write to Congress” feature. You can e-mail the pre-written message or edit the sample letter as you desire. This is the quickest and most effective method of expressing your views to Congress. Also, contact your friends and family and urge them to "Write to Congress" as well. For more in-depth information and background visit our web site at www.ngaus.org. Please direct any questions concerning this issue to Pete Duffy, NGAUS Deputy Legislative Director at 202-454-5307 or via email: pete.duffy@ngaus.org.


Friday, February 16, 2007

NGAUS Legislative Update: 2/16/2007

What’s Happening In Congress?

FY 2007 Spending Bill Clears.
On Wednesday, the Senate passed a $463.5 billion spending measure to provide funding to programs covered in the nine appropriations bills that went unfinished from the 109th Congress. The Democratic leadership excluded any new earmarks and used a parliamentary procedure commonly known as “filling the amendment tree” to block additional amendments. Along with this maneuver the Senate waited until two days before the continuing resolution expired to address the measure, making it virtually impossible to vote against.

A looming problem is that $3.1 billion meant to implement 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) list was not included in the final continuing resolution. The Democratic leadership has pledged to address this shortfall and others in the upcoming emergency war supplemental, which Congress is expected to take up next month.

MGIB Legislation Introduced.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers held a press conference yesterday to introduce their new “Total Force Montgomery GI Bill”. Senator Blanche Lincoln (AR) along with Representatives Vic Snyder (AR), John Boozman (AR), Loretta Sanchez (CA) and Stephanie Herseth (SD) were all present to discuss this update to the Montgomery GI Bill is so important. Senator Susan Collins is also an original cosponsor, but was unable to attend the announcement.

The legislation is intended to modernize the MGIB to ensure that members of the Guard and Reserve receive education benefits that are commensurate to their increased service to this nation. It would integrate all MGIB programs under Title 38, thus allowing proportionate changes to Selected Reserve benefits each time the Active Duty benefit is increased. The legislation would also provide a month-for-month active duty benefit eligibility and a 10 year period in which to use benefits once you separate from service.

Please contact your Senators and Representatives to let them know how important this legislation is to the future of the men and women in the National Guard.

What’s Happening At NGAUS?

Senator Hutchison Receives Award.
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX) was presented with a 2006 Charles Dick Medal of Merit from NGAUS this week. Senator Hutchison is the Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and the only Senator to receive this award in 2006. The award was presented to her at the annual Congressional breakfast sponsored by the National Guard Association of Texas.

What Can You Do?

Will Non-Production of the C-17 Affect your National Guard Unit?
The FY2008 President’s Budget includes no funding for continued production of the C-17 Globemaster III. The C-17 provides the most advanced airlift capability in the world and has the unique capability to operate in both strategic and tactical airlift modes. It is the best suited aircraft to meet our growing foreign policy demands as well as emerging Homeland Security and disaster response requirements.

The NGAUS membership passed Resolution No. C-6 at the 128th General Conference, “Relating to Procurement and Assignment of C-17 Globemaster III Aircraft,” which recommends funding for C-17 procurement.

States that either currently operate this aircraft or hope to in the future as a replacement mission for losses from the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure include: New York, Hawaii, Alaska, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

If you or another unit in your state will be affected by the lack of funding for this program, contact your Senators and Representatives immediately to express your concerns.

Don’t forget that the NGAUS 2007 CACO Conference will be held on March 5 to 6. Check our website for more information and a draft agenda for the event!

Published by the NGAUS Legislative Staff:
Brig Gen (ret) Richard M. Green, Director
Pete Duffy, Deputy Director
Chris DeBatt, Army Programs
Emily Breitbach, Air Programs
Bernie Phelps, Senior Legislative Analyst

For more information on NGAUS, check out our website: NGAUS.


NGAUS Notes: 2/16/2007

Army and Air Guard Recruiting Surpass 100 Percent.
The Army National Guard and Air Guard both achieved more than 100 percent of their recruiting goals in January, along with the Marine Corps Reserve and Air Force Reserve, according to the Defense Department.

Army Reserve and Navy Reserve numbers lagged, achieving 99 percent and 93 percent, respectively.

In addition, Army Guard retention was 120 percent of the cumulative goal of 10,289, and Air Guard retention was 97 percent of its cumulative goal of 3,289.

Both the Army and Air Guard are at 99 percent of their target end strength.

Army Guard end strength for 2007 is 350,000, but the president’s 2008 budget request submitted to Congress Feb. 2 recommends increasing fiscal year 2008 Army Guard end strength to 351,300. Increases through fiscal year 2013 will bring the total to 358,200.

The president’s Air Guard budget recommends going from a 107,000 end strength in fiscal 2007 to 106,700 in fiscal year 2008 as well as in fiscal 2009.

Among a variety of recruiting initiatives the Guard has undertaken in recent years, the Guard Recruiting Assistance Program (G-RAP) has remained a strong catalyst for building those troop levels.

The Army Guard began G-RAP late 2005, and the Air Guard adopted the program last April.

G-RAP basically turns Guardsmen into recruiters, paying them up to $2,000 for each recruit they bring to the service who enlists and reports to basic training.

Interested Guardsmen can call (866) 566-2472 or visit the G-RAP Web site at Guard Recruiting Assistant.

Summit Stresses Military Family Needs.
Col. Anthony E. Bake r, chief of family programs for the National Guard Bureau, said yesterday that family members really don’t care where they get their needs met, so long as there are met.

His remarks came at the 2007 Family Readiness Summit, which included about 100 top military family program leaders in Washington.

The group gathered to brainstorm ways to break down interservice bureaucratic barriers that sometimes prevent military family members from getting the help they need.

“All they care about is convenience,” Colonel Baker said. “They don’t care who delivers it, as long as it’s delivered. That’s what we’re trying to do, is figure out how we can deliver the services to them in such a way that it is not inconvenient to them.”

Thomas F. Hall, assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs, said that their service branch shouldn’t matter if a military family member needs help, and added that studies have shown that the services need to improve their systems for meeting family members’ needs.

James L. Scott, director of individual and family policy for Mr. Hall said the summit’s goal is to figure out how to best provide services and support to all military families.

Officials put particular emphasis on those who are geographically separated from an installation.

“They are entitled to these services, but it is hard for them to access them,”Mr. Scott said. “Does that make those military members ... less deserving of services and support? No. Perhaps it makes them more deserving.”

DoD Program Teaches Military Personnel About Money Management.
"Military Saves," a new Defense Department program that encourages better money management, is targeting credit card debt and emphasizing savings accounts as routes to financial stability.

Initiated by David S.C. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness last year, the DoD-wide program sponsors money management seminars titled, “Moneywise in the Military,” held at military installations across the country.

“We want financial planning and financial strategies to become a part of everyday life” for service members and their families, said Leslye A. Arsht, deputy undersecretary of defense for military community and family policy, yesterday.

Each seminar features the insights of money management expert Kelvin Boston, host of the PBS television series, Moneywise, as well as other sessions that discuss the proper use of credit, savings and investment strategies, home ownership and other topics.

The first seminar, held in September at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, attracted more than 200 service members and military spouses.

The second seminar was held Jan. 31 at Fort Dix, N.J., and it drew more than 400 service members and military spouses.

When service members are distracted by financial problems, it negatively affects military readiness, Ms. Arsht said. The state of a service member’s personal finances also affects security clearances.

Ms. Arsht encourages military personnel and their families to visit their Web site at Military Saves to access financial management information and register for a money management plan.

"Train the Trainer" Workshop Set for March 11 and 12.
State and territory association leaders will discover the latest recruiting and retention practices when NGAUS hosts a special “train the trainer”membership workshop, March 11 and 12 at The National Guard Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Workshop participants will hear what is helping many states consistently achieve 100 percent NGAUS membership.

They will also review the association Web site, learn how to clarify the benefits and value of joining NGAUS and discuss membership committee initiatives.

Every state and territory is invited to send a participant, said Lt. Col. Tracy L. Settle of South Dakota, the new NGAUS membership committee chairman.

Ideal participants, Colonel Settle said, include state and territory association presidents, executive directors or membership chairs.

The workshop’s intent, he said, will be to provide attendees with all the tools necessary to go home and train their unit membership points of contact.

The association board of directors approved the workshop at its November meeting.

NGAUS will cover the hotel and meals for participants. Additional workshop information will be provided in NGAUS NOTES, on the Web site and directly to each state and territory association.

NGAUS History.
In August 1988, NGAUS honored Sen. John C. Stennis, D-Miss., during a reception at the D.C. Armory in Washington, D.C. Senator Stennis, 87, was retiring after 41 years in the Senate.

“Few members of the U.S. Senate have compiled a reputation for defense advocacy to match that of Senator John C. Stennis of Mississippi,” said Maj. Gen. Ansel M. Stroud Jr., NGAUS president.

Senator Stennis had chaired the Senate Appropriations Committee and Senate Armed Services committee through the years and had an extraordinary degree of influence on defense and Guard issues.

This Week in Guard History.
Feb. 15, 1898: Havana Harbor, Cuba—The USS Maine explodes, killing 260 American sailors. While still a matter of debate, many experts now feel it was an accident.

The Maine was sent as a goodwill gesture to Spain. When it suddenly blew up in the Spanish-controlled port, the newspapers of the day blamed the Spanish for sabotaging the ship. The event led America to declare war against Spain April 25.

Nearly 200,000 men would join the fight, including 170,000 of them drawn from uniformed volunteer militia units, the predecessors of the National Guard. Many of these men served in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Guam and the Philippines. Thousands would die (almost all from disease), while some like Teddy Roosevelt would gain national exposure.


Friday, February 09, 2007

Iraqi Army, Cavalry take fight to the enemy...again

This is an article of brave Iraqi men who have taken their place of Iraq's military. They did not back down. They did not run away. They ran toward the terrorists.

    MOSUL, Iraq - Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 7th (2-7) Cavalry Regiment conducted a raid on several houses in the Al Wahda neighborhood in east Mosul Feb. 4, after receiving intelligence about specific high-priority targets.

    Upon reaching the area near the Sabrine mosque, the Thunder element Soldiers dismounted and began searching their target area. As they reached the roof, they began taking small-arms fire from a group of insurgents. The insurgents also began lobbing grenades at the 2-7 Cavalry troops.

    Regrouping back down the stairs, the "Garry Owen" troops encountered two near misses. In one instance, a grenade bounced off of two Cavalry Soldiers before exploding in the living room of the house. In a second incident, Sgt. Konyaku Kaili, an infantryman with 2-7 Cavalry, was engaged by small-arms fire and received a round into the front SAPI plate of his body armor. The armor stopped the round, and he was not seriously injured.

    During the engagement, one insurgent blew himself up with an explosive vest, and another was shot and killed when quick-reaction reinforcement troops arrived from the Iraqi army and 2-7 Cavalry, effectively sealing off the target area.

    Simultaneously, five mortar rounds landed in the area and a large ammunition cache, that was stored in the house, sympathetically detonated due to the fire created by the insurgent attack.

    Soldiers from the Iraqi Army swept in and cleared all of the remaining houses, detaining five males in a car who were headed through the blockade, into the fight. The detainees had individual weapons with them as well as rocket-propelled grenades and launchers.

    All evidence was collected and detainees processed by the Iraqi Security Forces who were working on matching up the two killed insurgents with the descriptions of the high-priority targets.
Yes, they are amazing. I only wish this story would the American press...but how can it when reporters get their news from the enemy?

PS. I know that Cavalry is spelled Calvary, but they spell it that way all through the article. Maybe that is the way it is translated from Arabic? Anyway, what's the harm? Just as long as you know I did not miss that. lol.

Source: CENTCOM Press Release. If you have difficulty with that link, try this one.

Labels: , , , ,

Two Shammar Tribe villages enjoy civil affairs' school renovations

This is an article which is very touching. One way to win part of this war is to get the Iraqi people on your side. This is one step forward.

    RABE'A, Iraq - Coalition civil affairs teams completed two nearly-identical school reconstruction projects in two nearly-identical Shammar tribe villages, located miles apart from one another, Feb. 1.

    The villages of Al Jafal and Asfaia, while located several miles apart, are both Shammar tribal villages near Rabe'a. [B]oth contain between 100 and 130 school-age children, and until recently, both contained primary schools in need of renovation.

    Funded by the non-governmental organization AEGIS, a firm that works hand-in-hand with the military to provide basic needs projects to the local populace, Coalition civil affairs teams coordinated to have both schools renovated to bring them up to a safe and acceptable learning environment.

    In Al Jafal, the $3,142 renovation consisted of providing heaters, windows, and doors. A small generator was provided due to the lack of electricity in the village. The lights in the school were replaced, and the school was provided with two water tanks and fuel tanks. All work was contracted through residents of the village.

    In Asfaia, the $3,806 renovation consisted of plastering and painting the outer walls of the building, as well as replacing all of the toilets and sinks. The contractor installed new water tanks and pipes to supply the restrooms with water. A new circuit breaker was purchased, and new lights were installed in each room as well as on the outside of the school. The doors were repainted and all the locks were replaced. Additionally, new screens were installed in all the windows in preparation for spring and summer weather. The contractors went a little over their initial budget, but extra resources were collected from the villagers, who were more than happy to help provide their children with a better learning environment.

    The residents of both villages were pleased with the renovations and welcomed future projects with promises of support and assistance.

    AEGIS continues to work with Coalition forces in helping to provide quality-of-life improvements to Iraq's, and the Ninewa Province's rural areas.
For all the bickering about where the money is going, it is good to know that the Iraqi people are being included in the jobs. This way they may not have a desire to blow up something that they have created themselves. Let us hope they take pride in their workmanship, the same way (or better!) than we do.

Source: CENTCOM Press Release. If you have difficulty with this link, try this one.

Labels: , , , ,

Suspected terrorists hit in air strike near Arab Jabour

Here is a bit of good news:

    BAGHDAD, Iraq - Coalition Forces conducted an air strike Wednesday targeting an al-Qaida in Iraq-related vehicle-borne improvised explosives devices network near Arab Jabour.

    Intelligence reports indicated that this network is responsible for a large and devastating number of VBIED attacks in the Baghdad area. They are also responsible for IED and sniper attacks conducted against the Iraqi people and Iraqi and Coalition Forces.

    As Coalition Forces approached the targeted building they came under intense enemy fire. Ground forces assessed seven suspected terrorists were in the targeted building. Coalition Forces determined the targets too hostile for ground troops and called for air support. Two precision guided munitions were dropped destroying the targeted building and an associated structure.

    Coalition Forces continue to tear apart the al-Qaida leadership inside Iraq. This operation significantly reduces this VBIED terrorist network's ability to operate, and increases the safety of all Iraqi citizens, Iraqi forces, and Iraq's Multi-National partners.
If I do say so myself, great job guys!

Source: CENTCOM. If you have trouble with that link, try this one.

Labels: , , , ,

Iraqi, Coalition Forces Battle Terrorists After Investigating IED Blast

This is an article I found over at CENTCOM.mil. There are stories in the press release I am going to bring to you today starting with this one:

    BAGHDAD - Iraqi and Coalition Forces fought unidentified enemy fighters Feb. 8 in Baqubah, Diyala Province, after responding to investigate an improvised explosive device attack against a Coalition Forces convoy.

    Iraqi and Coalition Forces searching the area discovered a command wire which they followed from the explosion site to nearby buildings.

    While searching for the bomber, they began to receive heavy small arms and rocket propelled grenade fires from several enemy fighters in several buildings in the area including a mosque, was later identified as an abandoned mosque no longer in use, from which heavy fire was directed against Coalition and Iraqi Army Soldiers.

    Iraqi and Coalition Forces returned fires and called for support from an Aerial Weapons Team.

    Iraqi and Coalition Forces fired at several identified targets, including enemy fighters in the abandoned mosque, to neutralize the threat.

    Damage was caused to the abandoned mosque and surrounding buildings during the engagement.
    Iraqi Army forces entered the abandoned mosque to conduct a search for enemy fighters and weapons.

    Iraqi Forces confiscated five assault rifles, Iraqi Army uniforms and explosives and material for constructing IEDs during the search.

    One enemy fighter was killed.

    There were no Iraqi Forces or Coaltion Forces casualties.

    There were no reports of civilian casualties.
This is just one of the slow but sure example we are taking in this new push. I'm grateful no one on our side was injured. Stay careful and great, and keep your powder dry.

Source: CENTCOM Press Release. If you have a problem with that link, you will find the long version over at DoD Daily News-2.

Labels: , , , ,

NGAUS Legit: 2/9/2007

What’s Happening In Congress?

President Releases Defense Budget.
President Bush’s $2.9 trillion fiscal year 2008 budget request provides $481.4 million for the Department of Defenses base budget. Submitted with the budget this year is a supplemental appropriations request for $93.4 billion for continuing needs of the Global War on Terror (GWOT) during 2007 and a request for $141.7 billion in emergency appropriations to fund continuing costs for the GWOT. The funding requested in the 2008 Budget will take the total amount up to $661.9 billion.

The President’s 2008 budget includes funds to: replace or refurbish military equipment lost or damaged in combat or worn out; support the Joint IED Defeat Organization; continue developing Army modularity; expand the Special Operations Command (SOCOM); continue efforts to meet the recommendations accepted by the BRAC Commission; enhance missile defense capabilities; provide an increase in basic pay; and provide access to quality healthcare.

What’s Happening At NGAUS?

State Associations Visit D.C.
This week, delegations from Montana, Tennessee, Connecticut, and Arkansas came to Washington to visit with their members of Congress and promote the priorities that will help ensure readiness in their states.

In most cases, the adjutant general was accompanied by Joint Forces Headquarters personnel, Army and Air Guard commanders and state association leaders. NGAUS was pleased to provide facilities for briefings and help arrange social events where members of the Guard, their Representative, Senators and congressional staff could engage in dialog that ultimately facilitates a better understanding and relationship for all.

Each of these states produced outstanding materials and presentations that clearly identified the resources needed, such as military construction, equipment, force structure allowance, new missions and quality-of-life issues that they need to ensure a trained and ready force.

While members of some states congressional delegations were busy on the Hill attending hearings or performing other duties, nearly all of the military legislative assistants (MLAs) and appropriations staffers, as well as others, were able to participate in the meetings.

NGAUS applauds these states for the great job they did to organize and execute such a positive method of keeping their congressional delegation informed. For many states, this has become a “drill”that they have found works year after year, and we couldn’t agree more.

Establishing good relationships and bringing a number of constituents are sure ways to guarantee meetings with your Senators, Representatives and their staff as well as attendance at your social functions. Also, by holding your event at the National Guard Memorial, it gives NGAUS the opportunity to host you in what we believe to be a first class facility and share the priorities and perspectives that the national NGAUS membership on a believes are in the best interest of the National Guard and our country.

We encourage all states to take advantage of using the National Guard Memorial to stage their visits to Congress. The space is free of charge and assistance is available to arrange catering for social events. It is also a perfect opportunity for all to visit our museum, library, and the other historical artifacts throughout the building.

Draft Agenda for CACO.
A draft agenda for the 2007 Congressional Action Contact Officer Conference has been posted on the NGAUS website at www.NGAUS.org. Just click on the CACO link found on the calendar. While this is a draft agenda, the start and end times are correct. You can use these times to plan your transportation and congressional office visits.

New Air Programs Lobbyist.
The Legislative Department has promoted Emily Breitbach to be the new Air Programs Lobbyist. Emily has been working as a Legislative Analyst for NGAUS since June 2006. She has a degree in Political Science from the University of Iowa, is a former member of the 133rd Test Squadron in Fort Dodge, Iowa and current member of the 112th Air Operations Squadron in State College, Pennsylvania. Her congressional experience comes from serving as an intern in the offices of Congressman Zach Wamp of Tennessee and then-Congressman James Leach of Iowa.

What Can You Do?

Give Back Control.
In last year’s National Defense Authorization Act, changes were made to the Insurrection Act that allows for control of National Guard troops to be taken away from Governors and given to the President in numerous situations. In essence, these changes now make it much easier to federalize the National Guard for domestic law enforcement.

Recently bills have been introduced in both the House and Senate to repeal these changes, which were made without consultation with the nation’s 54 governors. Senators Patrick Leahy and Kit Bond, the co-chairs of the Senate National Guard Caucus, introduced S 513 and Congressman Thomas Davis introduced HR 869.

Spend a few minutes of your time to let your Congressman and Senators know how you feel on this issue by giving them a call or writing them a quick email. You can use the NGAUS website to find their contact information and even to draft a quick email to all of you representatives.

Published by the NGAUS Legislative Staff:
Brig Gen (ret) Richard M. Green, Director
Pete Duffy, Deputy Director
Chris DeBatt, Army Programs
Emily Breitbach, Air Programs
Bernie Phelps, Senior Legislative Analyst

For more information on NGAUS, check out our website: NGAUS.


NGAUS Notes: 2/9/2007

Senate Confirms Casey Next Army Chief, Replaces Schoomaker.
The Senate yesterday confirmed Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. as the next Army chief of staff by a vote of 83 to 14.

He replaces Army Gen. Peter Schoomaker, who is retiring.

General Casey, who has led Multinational Force Iraq since July 2004, was supported by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who noted last month that the general’s 30 months on the ground in Baghdad is key to dealing with the Pentagon’s commitments.

“He was the first choice of the professional military and the secretary of the Army for this position,” Mr. Gates said. “He served as the vice chief of staff of the Army. So I think he’s eminently qualified.”

As commander in Iraq, General Casey oversaw the largest sustained ground forces operation by the U.S. military in a generation.

In his confirmation hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee, General Casey said that President Bush’s new Iraq strategy can work, emphasizing the importance of securing the Iraqi population.

“For the Iraqis to successfully assume and sustain security responsibility, their security forces must emerge as the dominant security forces in the country,” he said. “To do this, political and militia influence over the security forces must be eliminated, and levels of sectarian violence, particularly in the capital, must be brought down substantially—brought down to the point where the people in Baghdad can be safe in their neighborhoods.”

General Casey is set to hand over command of Multinational Force Iraq to Army Gen. David Petraeus tomorrow.

Pentagon Outlines War on Terror Costs.
Pentagon Comptroller Tina Jonas told Pentagon reporters Tuesday that Congress has appropriated $452 billion for the war on terror via emergency supplemental budget measures.

Lawmakers also have appropriated another $3 billion for Operation Noble Eagle, the mission providing a combat air patrol over the continental United States and security at airports that started after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The comptroller said the Defense Department is asking for another $93.4 billion as part of the emergency supplemental request for 2007.

She projected $141.7 billion in operational expenses in fiscal 2008. This will bring the total for the war on terror to about $690 billion.

Ms. Jonas also spoke about the $38.8 billion allocated for military health care for fiscal 2008. The budget assumes some change in military health care because health care expenses are rising well above inflation, she said.

In 2006, the Bush administration tried to raise the amount beneficiaries pay for health care. DoD officials said they had to update the benefit to maintain the quality of care. Under changes suggested then, certain classes of beneficiaries would have to pay more.

Congress did not go along with the request and called for a task force to examine the problem.

The 2006 National Defense Authorization Act called for DoD to appoint a 14-member Task Force on the future of military health care. The task force should present an interim report to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in May. The final report is due in December.

Essay Contest to Award $1,000 Scholarships to 25 Military Dependents.
Homefront America has joined the W. Daniel Tate family and Sara’s Hope Foundation for a second year to host a scholarship contest awarding $1,000 to 25 military dependent children who write essays on one of four themes.

The organization is a member of America Supports You, a Defense Department program designed to connect U.S. citizens’ support directly to troops and their families.

“This is the launching of a huge campaign,” said Mamie Maywhort, Homefront America chief financial officer. “It doesn’t matter if people only contribute a dollar; we want this to be the beginning of an endowment perpetuated every year.”

Ms. Maywhort said she began the program because she saw a need.

“With parents being deployed so much, some of these kids might not have the role model there to encourage them to pursue further education or the resources to make going to school possible,” she said.

Ms. Maywhort also said that she and the Tate family have long been passionate about encouraging youngsters to pursue higher education, especially those connected to the military.

Essays should address one of four subjects: "America—It's a Wonderful Country,”“Turning Challenges into Opportunities,”"Why I am Proud to be an American” or “My Dad/Mom—My Hero.”

Essays are due April 23 and should not exceed 500 words. Officials will announce winners in May.

Visit the Homefront America Web site at Home Front America for full instructions and application procedures.

'Train the Trainer' Workshop Set for March 11 and 12.

State and territory association leaders will discover the latest recruiting and retention practices when NGAUS hosts a special “train the trainer”membership workshop, March 11 and 12 at The National Guard Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Workshop participants will hear what is helping many states consistently achieve 100 percent NGAUS membership.

They will also review the association Web site, learn how to clarify the benefits and value of joining NGAUS and discuss membership committee initiatives.

Every state and territory is invited to send a participant, said Lt. Col. Tracy L. Settle of South Dakota, the new NGAUS membership committee chairman.

Ideal participants, Colonel Settle said, include state and territory association presidents, executive directors or membership chairs.

The workshop’s intent, he said, will be to provide attendees with all the tools necessary to go home and train their unit membership points of contact.

The association board of directors approved the workshop at its November meeting.

NGAUS will cover the hotel and meals for participants. Additional workshop information will be provided in NGAUS NOTES, on the Web site and directly to each state and territory association.

NGAUS History.
In 1978, The National Guard Heritage Gallery was honored by the Council on Abandoned Military Posts (CAMP) with an award for its “presentations and interpretation of America’s past and the role of the militia, citizen soldier and the Guard.”

Col. W.D. McGlasson, NGAUS deputy executive vice president, received the award on behalf of NGAUS.

CAMP was founded in 1966 as a non-profit educational association to identify and preserve military installations and units that no longer serve the role for which they were created.

The association was renamed the Council on America’s Military Past, USA, Inc. in 1981.

This Week in Guard History.
Feb. 7, 2003: Quincy, Ill. — Members of the 126th Maintenance Company mobilize to support Operation Enduring Freedom. The unit is not deployed overseas. Instead, some of its soldiers are sent to Fort Bragg, N.C., to “backfill” for troops already shipped out.

Among its 180 personnel are four sets of brothers. National Guard units draw their soldiers from the local community in which they are based and often include brothers, fathers and sons—and since the 1970s, sisters or mother and daughter combinations.

In fact, this same unit in 1968 had a very similar situation. Then designated as the 126th Service and Supply Company, it was mobilized for Vietnam service. The 148 men in its ranks included eight sets of brothers, including one set of three brothers.


Saturday, February 03, 2007

NGAUS Legislative Update: 2/2/2007

What’s Happening In Congress?

Guard Empowerment Legislation.
The House and Senate on Wednesday introduced the National Guard Empowerment Act of 2007, to the 110th Congress which would make the National Guard Bureau (NGB) chief a four-star general with statutory authority to speak for the Guard at the highest levels of the Defense Department.

Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Christopher “Kit” Bond, R-Mo., co-chairs of the Senate National Guard Caucus, reintroduced their bill, S.430, to help make the National Guard a stronger and more responsible defense agency, which will improve the nation’s defense and improve the military’s ability to support civilian authorities during domestic emergencies. Reps. Tom Davis, R-Va., and Gene Taylor, D-Miss., introduced an identical bill in the House, H.R.718.

The Senate passed a modified version of the bill last year, while the House took no action. But the 2007 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) directed the Commission on National Guard and Reserves to review and present an opinion on the legislation, which is due March 1.

Guard leaders and a growing number of lawmakers, however, think the matter requires no further assessment.

They believe their lack of input into final Pentagon decisions is responsible for the Guard’s chronic funding shortfalls and recent Army and Air Force proposals to cut Guard personnel and equipment.

The following is a summary of the provisions of S. 430 / H.R. 718:

Section 1: Title

National Guard Empowerment Act of 2007

Section 2: National Guard Chief Full General on Joint Staff

Elevates the Chief of the National Guard to the rank of full general and makes that officer a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, advising the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and, in turn, the Secretary of Defense and the President, on National Guard matters, particularly matters related to the Guard’s work to support civil authorities during domestic emergencies.

It also allows the Secretary of Defense to set the National Guard’s charter in consultation with the Army and Air Force secretaries, adding a responsibility to the National Guard Bureau to help coordinate the National Guard during domestic emergencies. The National Guard will work with the States to identify gaps between federal and state capabilities in responding to emergencies, and the National Guard will have the authority to set equipment requirements and procure equipment for this domestically oriented mission. Part of the annual defense budget shall go toward the National Guard’s military support to civilian authorities’ mission.

Section 3: Expanding the Pool of National Guard Generals

Expands the pool of available National Guard generals eligible for promotion to the rank of lieutenant general and higher. It expresses the sense of Congress that the Reserve Component major generals should be considered for promotion, and it requires the Secretary of Defense to submit a plan to increase these promotions, as well as a certification, when the Administration submits nominees, that Reserve Component officers have actually received consideration.

Section 4: Joint Credit and Promotion Report

Ensures that adjutants general receive so-called joint credit for serving as the adjutant general, and it requires the Secretary of the Army and the Air Force to submit a report for elevating more National Guard major generals to the rank of lieutenant general.

Section 5: United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) Deputy

Ensures that the Deputy Commander of United States Northern Command is drawn from the ranks of the National Guard.

Section 6: Annual Report on Military Response to National Disaster

Requires the Secretary of Defense to work with United States Northern Command and the National Guard to submit an annual report on the coordination of National Guard and active military forces during domestic emergencies, using various scenarios and planning constructs.

Section 7: Reporting on National Guard Equipment

Provides greater transparency of budgeting for the National Guard’s equipment.

Empowerment of National Guard leaders, which includes National Guard Bureau, adjutants general, and governors, is the prerequisite first step to ensuring the National Guard has the force structure, equipment, policies, and quality-of-life our units and members.

Empowerment is the #1 NGAUS legislative priority because it sets the stage for everything else we need in order to succeed on behalf of our members and the American public. With empowerment, our voice will be heard at the right time and place in the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Guard will be integrated into plans and programs from the outset, not as a response to an announcement of a program or strategy “after the fact.”

Clearly, there is opposition from the Administration and Pentagon to several provisions of the Empowerment Act as evidenced by testimony before the Commission on National Guard and Reserves (CNGR) by Secretary of the Army Francis Harvey, Chief of Staff of the Army General Peter Schoomaker, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Peter Pace.

Contact your members of Congress and urge them to sign on as a co-sponsor and support the National Guard Empowerment Act of 2007. Our future depends on it.

What’s Happening At NGAUS?

CACO Conference.
The National Guard Association of the United States’ 10th Annual Congressional Action Contact Officer Conference’s hotel reservation deadline is today. If you have registered for this event or are still planning on doing so, make sure to call the Phoenix Park Hotel at 1-800-824-5419 and mention group code number 9641. Make your room reservation today in order to ensure the discounted group rate. Also make sure to download and fill out the registration form found on the NGAUS website here and return to Emily Breitbach.

The dates for this event are March 5 to 6, with the events ending by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 6th. The agenda will be posted on the NGAUS website in the near future.

Legislative Objectives are on the Hill.

The NGAUS legislative team has been delivering the Fiscal Year 2008 Legislative Objectives Booklet to both the Senate offices and the House offices. Along with the Legislative Objectives booklets, offices also received the very first edition of NGAUS ISSUES. This is a monthly newsletter provided to members of Congress and their staff to keep them up-to-date on issues important to our associations 45,000 members.

What Can You Do?

Share Your Views on Reduced Retirement Age.
NGAUS has a broad resolution supporting reduction of the age at which members of the Guard and Reserve can begin to receive retired pay. Many pieces of legislation have been offered to address this issue.

NGAUS believes it would be helpful to convince various congressional sponsors to back a common bill. We will need to speak with one voice in adopting a resolution in San Juan that lays out our preference.

To assist the membership, we are posting an “issue block” on the NGAUS homepage that will provide background info and a bulletin board so that you can participate.

Casework in Congress.
One of the most important and rewarding duties of any member of Congress is constituent casework. Congressional members have the ability to act as a liaison between the federal government agencies and their individual constituents in their districts. It is often times a lot easier for a Congressional office to get information you may need. Getting in contact with the right person at agencies can often times be frustrating. If you have questions that your MPF is unable to answer or problems that are above their ability to solve, let your Representative help you out. Whether it be veteran’s benefits eligibility or claims inquiries, problems obtaining copies of your military records, making corrections to your military records, receiving reentry service waivers, or any other issue related to being in the military or not.

Visit http://www.house.gov/ and use your zip code to identify the correct Representative for your district. Due to the Privacy Act of 1974, you will also need to fill out a Privacy Release Form in order to give written consent for assistance. Your Congressional office will have this form available for you.

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


NGAUS Notes: 2/2/2007

Guard Relationship with DoD, DHS ‘Hit-and-Miss,’ Says Blum.
Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum told the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves Wednesday that other agencies have somewhat adapted to the Guard’s more significant national security role, but the Guard’s charter should formally recognize that role.

“It’s ad hoc and hit-and-miss,” General Blum said, adding that the NGB chief should have a formal relationship with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and the defense secretary.

Lawmakers’ answer to this—and a top NGAUS priority—is the National Guard Empowerment Act of 2007, which would, among other things, make the NGB chief a four-star general with a JCS seat.

But Defense officials continue to resist such legislation.

“I would encourage that in whatever is rewritten in the charter that we recognize the unique capabilities of the chief of the National Guard Bureau,” said Gen. Peter Pace, JCS chairman, but he is against making the NGB chief a JCS member.

“If you make this individual a member of the Joint Chiefs, you create two armies and two air forces,” he said. “You will do major damage to the synergy that we’ve gotten. We are there and should not take a step back.

Last year’s defense authorization act asked the commission to offer a recommendation on such legislation by March 1.

General Blum testified five days after the Senate confirmed a two-year extension in his term.

He has served as NGB chief since April 2003.

Kiefner, Former NGAUS President, Dead at 76.
Retired Lt. Gen. (Mo.) Charles M. Kiefner, NGAUS president from 1988 to 1990 and Missouri adjutant general from 1973 to 1977 and from 1981 to 1993, passed away in Dothan, Ala., Saturday.

He was 76.

General Kiefner was the youngest officer ever to lead the Missouri National Guard.

In 1973, then-Gov. Christopher “Kit” Bond appointed the Cape Girardeau, Mo.-born lieutenant colonel, then only 42.

General Kiefner was a political supporter, a friend and a great leader, now- Senator Bond told the Southeast Missourian.

“He had great leadership ability and he related to the men and women of the Guard,” Senator Bond, R-Mo., co-chair of the Senate National Guard Caucus. “He was not only very popular but a very effective adjutant general.”

Senator Bond recalled his first year as governor as a time he relied heavily on General Kiefner.

A major Mississippi River flood, tornadoes and prison unrest all required a close working relationship, he said.

“It seems like I spent almost every weekend with Charlie and the Guard,” Senator Bond said.

General Kiefner is survived by his wife, Marilyn, and sons, John and Keith.

His visitation (9 a.m.) and funeral service (1 p.m.) are set for tomorrow at the First Presbyterian Church in Perryville, Mo.

The family suggests memorial contributions be made to the either the National Guard Educational Foundation (www.ngef.org) or the Missouri Military Family Relief Fund (www.mmfrf.mo.gov).

Senate Confirms General to Implement New Iraq Troop Plan.
The Senate confirmed Army Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus last Friday for promotion to general and assignment as commander of Multinational Force Iraq.

President Bush said he wants General Petraeus to report to Iraq quickly to “implement a plan that we believe will yield our goals.”

The president said that despite criticism of his plan to increase U.S. troop presence in the Iraqi capital and in the country’s troublesome Anbar province, he has to do what needs to be done.

Most members of Congress, he said, recognize that failure in Iraq “would be a disaster for the United States.”

“I’m the decision maker,” Mr. Bush said. “I had to come up with a way forward that precluded disaster. In other words, I had to think about what’s likely to work. And so I worked with our military, and I worked with Secretary Gates to come up with a plan that is likely to succeed.”

Mr. Bush also said that critics of the plan have an obligation to propose a plan they think will work.

“I’ve listened to lots of members of Congress; I’ve listened carefully to their suggestions,” he said. “And I have picked the plan that I think is most likely to succeed, because I understand, like many in Congress understand, success is very important for the security of the country.”

No date has been set for General Petraeus to succeed Gen. George W. Casey Jr., who has commanded coalition forces in Iraq since July 2004.

The president nominated General Casey to become Army chief of staff to replace Gen. Peter Schoomaker.

NGAUS Welcomes New Legislative Staff Members.
NGAUS has rounded out its legislative staff in the past month, filling two vacant positions.

Retired Col. Peter J. Duffy is the legislative department’s new deputy director and joint lobbyist. Colonel Duffy is from New Hampshire and previously served as an Army judge advocate general. He left a law practice in Manchester, N.H., after 30 years as a civil litigator.

Colonel Duffy spent his active-duty years as a defense counsel, legal assistance officer and counsel to the tri-service Armed Forces Disciplinary Control Board. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University, a doctor of jurisprudence from the University of California at Davis and a master’s degree in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College.

The legislative department also welcomes Emily Breitbach as the new Air issues lobbyist. Ms. Breitbach has served as a NGAUS legislative analyst since June 2006.

A native of Iowa, she graduated from the University of Iowa with a bachelor’s degree in political science. She is also a traditional member of the Pennsylvania National Guard and former intern for U.S. Reps. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., and Jim Leach, R-Iowa.

This Week in Guard History.
Feb. 2, 1951: Unnamed Hill, South Korea - The 65th Infantry, a Regular Army regiment composed entirely of men from Puerto Rico and assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division, captures a strategic hill after a three-day fight.

Organized in 1899 as the Puerto Rican Regiment of Volunteer Infantry, an overwhelming number of enlisted personnel spoke only Spanish.

As a result, the officers assigned were required to speak both English and Spanish, often a hard language requirement to fill at the time.

After the Korean War, as the Army began to reduce strength and open all units to integration, officials transferred the 65th to the Puerto Rico National Guard in 1959.

NGAUS History.
The NGAUS Executive Council approved the Associate Member Program in 1989 allowing individuals other than National Guard officers to become NGAUS members.

This made association membership accessible to friends, family and other Guard supporters.

One of the first new associate members was Brig. Gen. Roger C. Bultman, then-deputy chief of the Army Reserve.

You can join online or download an application from the “Membership & Benefits” section of the NGAUS Web site at www.ngaus.org.

Annual memberships are $45 per year; life memberships are $500.

Feb. 7: Connecticut Guard Breakfast - The National Guard Memorial.
Feb. 8: Arkansas Guard Breakfast - The National Guard Memorial.
Feb. 14: Texas National Guard Visit - The National Guard Memorial.
Feb. 19: Presidents’ Day - Memorial Closed.
Feb. 25 to March 1: AGAUS Winter Conference - The National Guard Memorial.