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Thursday, April 12, 2007

NGAUS Notes: 4/12/2007

Four Guard BCTs Alerted for Iraq Rotations in 2007 and 2008
The Army confirmed Monday Defense Department plans to alert four Army National Guard Brigade Combat Teams for new Iraq rotations: Arkansas' 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (BCT), Oklahoma's 45th Infantry BCT, Ohio's 37th Infantry BCT and Indiana's 76th Infantry BCT.

The first would deploy in December 2007 and the remaining in 2008. These alerts are not associated with the current plus-up of forces and are a part of routine unit replacements. The Army is notifying more than 12,000 Army Guardsmen in advance to provide them the opportunity to plan, train and provide some degree of predictability for themselves and their families.

None of those called are strangers to deployments. Arkansas' 39th deployed to Iraq as part of the 1st Cavalry Division from February 2004 to February 2005. It served both in the Baghdad Green Zone and in Taji, Iraq. The 45th most recently served in Operation Enduring Freedom deploying in the fall of 2003 for 12 months in Afghanistan to support the Afghan National Army.

Ohio's 37th last deployed to support operations in Kosovo from August 2004 to February 2005. Known as the "Dragon Brigade," the 37th is comprised of citizen-soldiers from Ohio and Michigan. Indiana's 76th has had various elements deployed since November 2002 to both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Their last brigade-level rotation however, was in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan from May 2004 to August 2005.

According to the Defense Department, the entire mobilization will not exceed 12 months for any Guard BCT.

Gen. Casey Becomes Army Chief of Staff
Gen. George W. Casey Jr. became the 36th chief of staff of the Army on Tuesday, replacing outgoing chief of staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker. His most recent assignment was as first commander of Multi-National Force - Iraq, a position he accepted in 2003. Before his Iraq assignment, he served as General Schoomaker's vice chief of staff. While it put him extremely close to the Army's operations, his Iraq experience also led to contentious confirmation hearings in February.

"While I do not in any way question your honor, your patriotism or your service...I do question some of the decisions and judgments you have made over the past two and a half years," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., told him Feb. 1. "During that time, things have gotten markedly and progressively worse, and the situation in Iraq can now best be described as dire and deteriorating."

General Casey somewhat agreed. "What I have tried to do in my time there is strike the right balance that allowed the Iraqi security forces and the government to keep moving forward, but at the same time, having enough coalition presence there so that we could get the job done," he said. "The situation in the [Iraqi] capital, as you point out, is not good."

Despite the heated debate, the Senate confirmed him Feb. 8. General Casey was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1970, has served in Germany, Italy, Egypt, Southwest Asia and the United States and has commanded at every level from platoon to division.

New Web Link Connects ESGR with Guard and Reserve Members
National Guard and Reserve members now can get help with employment issues arising from their military service or mobilization via a new link on the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) Web site at ESGR. The link connects reserve-component members to one of about 900 volunteer ESGR ombudsmen.

Through the link, users can explain their problem and provide contact information for both themselves and their employers, and the information is stored on a secure server. ESGR then assigns the request to an ombudsman who contacts the service member within 48 hours to resolve Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) complaints.

Ombudsmen initially try to resolve the problem through informal mediation. If that proves unsuccessful within 14 days, the ombudsman will refer the Guardsman or Reservist to the U.S. Department of Labor, which has statutory authority to enforce the USERRA law.

"While Guardsmen and reservists have always been able to e-mail us from the Website, the USERRA Complaint Request allows them the opportunity to initiate an ombudsman case online at any time of the day or night," said Philip T. Pope, ESGR's acting executive director. "The online request will complement the customer service center in making ESGR more accessible to Guardsmen and reservists serving all over the world."

Reserve-component members also can continue to use ESGR's customer service center at 800-336-4590. ESGR volunteers have provided free education, consultation or mediation for Guardsmen and Reservists on employment issues since 1972.

Jump Start Troops Get Presidential Kudos
On Monday, President Bush thanked National Guardsmen deployed across Texas, California, Arizona and New Mexico for helping the Border Patrol crack down on illegal entry across America's southern border. The arrival of Guard reinforcements in four southern border states since last summer has allowed the Border Patrol to move more than 300 agents into frontline positions. [Gag me with a spoon.]

White House officials reported that the additional manpower is helping curb illegal immigrants from entering the country. National Guard magazine reported in February that illegal traffic and arrests have dropped 60 percent since the start of the operation last summer, according to border officials. [Another fib. If you don't arrest them, it does NOT mean they are not crossing!]

"It takes time to train the Border Patrol," Mr. Bush said during the speech in Yuma, Ariz., "and until they're fully trained, we've asked the Guard to come down." Guard troops provide help with surveillance, construction and logistics at the border and also operate detection equipment at Border Patrol command centers. [This part is true.]

NGAUS History
Gen. Curtis E. LeMay, the second ex-Guardsmen to become Air Force chief of staff, received a commendation on behalf of NGAUS at a retirement ceremony in February 1965. The citation highlighted "his wisdom and guidance as chief of staff of the United States Air Force; his concept, support and utilization of the Air Force Reserve Forces."

General LeMay served in the Ohio National Guard from 1928 to 1929. Of his elevation to chief of staff, he observed: "I believe the National Guard can say that it has a pretty good batting average for the position - two out of five."

This Week in Guard History
April 11, 1944: Sterparone Airfield, Italy - The 840th Bombardment Squadron begins its first combat missions flying the B-17 Flying Fortress in Europe. The squadron, formerly the 128th Observation Squadron from the Georgia National Guard, was activated in May 1941 and spent two years flying antisubmarine patrols along the U.S. Gulf Coast before switching to a B-17 squadron. Assigned to the 483rd Bombardment Group, the squadron bombs targets such as oil refineries, marshalling yards, airfields, bridges, gun emplacements and troop concentrations over Italy, France, Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia and Greece.

Today, Georgia's 128th Expeditionary Airborne Command and Control Squadron, which flies Boeing E-8C Joint Stars aircraft as part of a blended Air Guard and active Air Force unit, carries the lineage of the 128th/840th.

Produced weekly by the NGAUS communications department. Comments and questions should be directed to NGAUS's e-mail. NGAUS members can sign up for electronic delivery of NGAUS Notes at NGAUS's website.

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