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Friday, May 18, 2007

NGAUS Notes: 5/18/2007

Gates Moves on Guard Commission Recommendations
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has charged his staff to take quick action on 20 recommendations made March 1 by the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves. He also has presented alternatives to other commission recommendations. In a May 10 memorandum, Mr. Gates charged the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the undersecretary of defense for policy, the Guard Bureau chief and the commanders of U.S. Northern, Southern and Pacific commands with advocating for reserve-component civil support requirements and resources. Mr. Gates also agreed with the commission’s recommendation that the Guard Bureau chief not be a member of the Joint Chiefs of staff. Instead, the Defense Department recommends that policy changes name the Guard chief an adviser to the defense secretary and the Joint Chiefs chairman. Mr. Gates also proposed a legislative change that would not limit the grade of the Guard chief to a three-star position. In addition, the DoD disagreed with the commission on making either the U.S. Northern Command’s commander or deputy position a mandatory reserve-component officer’s billet. Instead, the Pentagon calls for a policy change to modify officer military education and assignments that will allow any position in the military to be filled with the best qualified officer, regardless of component. Mr. Gates also is directing an executive order that will establish a council of governors that would advise his office and the secretary of homeland security. Defense Department leaders must respond within two weeks to Mr. Gates’ call for action.

Popular Web Sites Blocked on DoD Computers
The Defense Department announced Monday it is blocking access to many popular Internet sites from departmentowned computers due to bandwidth issues. Joint Task Force Global Network Operations, which directs the operation and defense of the Defense Department’s global information grid, blocked youtube.com and pandora.com, as well as photobucket.com, myspace.com, live365.com, hi5.com, metacafe.com, mtv.com, ifilm.com, blackplanet.com, stupidvideos.com and filecabi.com. The popularity of the sites has not affected operations yet, but blocking them prevents them from causing such a problem, officials said. “It is a proactive measure; we do not want a problem with demand for these sites clogging the networks,” a U.S. Strategic Command official said. The blocks affect only Defense Department computers and local area networks that are part of the department’s global information grid. The department has more than 15,000 local and regional networks and more than 5 million computers in the grid. Blocking the sites “is in no way a comment on the content, purpose or uses of the Web sites themselves,” the official said. “It is solely a bandwidth/network management issue.” But DoD has voiced concerns in the past about sensitive information emerging from military personnel in combat theaters using the Internet. Those needing access these sites from government computers can request exceptions to the policy. Global network operations officials said they will continue to assess the stresses and strains on the global information grid.

Operation Gratitude Set for Annual Care Package Drive
As Memorial Day nears, so does the start of Operation Gratitude’s fourth Patriotic Drive to send care packages to troops serving overseas. The California-based troop support group has been collecting and sorting items for the drive since March, Carolyn Blashek, the group’s founder said. Volunteers will begin assembling the packages during the Memorial Day weekend and continue to do so for three additional weekends, concluding the project on June 30 and July 1. The group has shipped more than 210,000 packages since its founding about four years ago. Ms. Blashek said she expects the group will send another 50,000-60,000 packages during this drive. “We will be sending our quarter-millionth care package on June 16,” she said. “The contents of that package are a surprise and will be revealed...on that day.” In addition, each package sent as part of this year’s Patriotic Drive will contain a special item, which will be revealed on the first packing day. The packages always contain letters to the troops as well as food, personal and comfort items. Ms. Blashek said Operation Gratitude is accepting donations of items from its wish list, which can be viewed on its Web site, and will continue to do so through June 15. “We welcome all items on our wish list and especially would like DVDs, CDs, Beanie Babies, Bandana Cool-ties or mini fans, small packages of beef jerky, and personal letters of appreciation,” she said. Those interested in donating packages or material can visit Operation Gratitude for more information.

Communication Department Needs Staff 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. Send cover letter, resume and three writing samples to:
National Guard Association of the United States
Communications Department
One Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, D.C., 20001.
Fax: 202-682-9358

E-mail: Chris Prawdzik.
NGAUS History
In March 1993, retired Maj. Gen. Robert F. Ensslin, NGAUS executive director, said he believed that the current dialogues between the Army and the Army Guard were encouraging; however, improvements were still needed for the the continuance of Total Army Policy as it applies to the Total Army. “National Guard units can produce any level of readiness for which they are resourced,” he said at the Brookings Institution’s National Issues Forum on the U.S. military in transition. He also emphasized the Guard’s dual role and the value it adds to the local communities across America. “The National Guard is America,” General Ensslin said.

This Week in Guard History
May 14, 1945: Mindanao Island, Philippines — Elements of Florida’s 124th Infantry, 31st Infantry Division repel several Japanese suicide attacks. The 31st “Dixie” Division first entered combat when, in March 1944, it took part in the fighting in New Guinea. Elements of it made an assault landing near Aitape causing a diversion of Japanese defenders while the main portion of the division landed at Maffin Bay almost unopposed. The 31st then moved to secure Morotai Island, cutting off 40,000 enemy soldiers based on Halmahera Island from reinforcements and supply from the Philippines. The 31st proved its mettle when it captured a Japanese airfield at Valencia, which led to the banzai attacks as fanatical Japanese soldiers tried in vain to recapture it. During the course of the war the division suffered 414 men killed in action with another 1,400 wounded.
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Produced weekly by the NGAUS communications department. Comments and questions should be directed to NGAUS's email. NGAUS members can sign up for electronic delivery of NGAUS Notes at NGAUS's site.

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