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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.


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