October 9, 2009
COMMANDER PRESENTS OBAMA WITH THREE OPTIONS IN AFGHANISTAN
Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, has presented President Obama with three options for the war there, including one that would see more than 60,000 additional troops sent to the war.
News reports have detailed some of the much-anticipated report from McChrystal, which has not been officially released, citing Pentagon sources for the information.
Earlier reports were that McChrystal wanted 40,000 additional troops for the fight and the sources say he still prefers that figure, as do other members of the military's top echelon. The general has warned that the country risks failure in Afghanistan if it does not send more troops quickly.
A third option in the general's report is to have only a small increase of troops.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Obama and his war council will discuss the general's ideas today amid a growing concern inside the halls of Congress and across the nation that the war is taking too long and is no longer worth the price.
Obama has considered changing the focus of the war from a battle against the Taliban to engaging only Al Qaeda to prevent the group from returning to Afghanistan and setting up a base. Robert Gibbs, the White House spokesman, said Thursday the Taliban is less threatening than Al Qaeda.
Key Democrats, however, are warning the president they might oppose sending more troops to the fight and have hinted they may cut off funding for the war, according to the Los Angeles Times.
"The public is worn out by the war," Rep. John P. Murtha, D-Pa., a member of the House Appropriations Committee, told the newspaper. "The troops, no matter what the military says, are exhausted."
Republicans, however, are pushing for a troop increase to meet McChrystal's preferred plan.
A BIG 'WHOOP': ARMY RETIRES HUEY, VIETNAM STALWART
The UH-1 Iroquois helicopter was officially retired in a ceremony held at Fort Myer, Va., one week ago, ending a service life of more than 50 years to the Army and close to 40 years in the Army Guard.
The helicopter, known to most simply as the Huey, was first manufactured in 1956 and fielded to the Army in 1959. Its distinctive nickname came from the pronunciation of its first Army designation of HU-1---for helicopter utility---and later models featured the word Huey emblazoned on the pilot's foot pedals. It was also known for its familiar "whoop, whoop" noise while in flight.
More than 15,000 of the aircraft were produced with about half of them being flown during the Vietnam War, linking the helicopter and the conflict probably forever.
"The UH-1, more than any other helicopter or any item of equipment, became the symbol of Vietnam," said Maj. Gen. Raymond Carpenter, the acting director of the Army National Guard.
The helicopter earned a reputation for being rugged and able to fly after taking many hits from enemy fire.
"I can also attest to you that it was not just a machine," said Brig. Gen. Alberto Jimenez, the assistant adjutant general for Maryland and the Army Guard's senior aviator. "It became part of us. It was our lives. It was our friend. It was the aircraft that took us in and out of Vietnam, and it was also the aircraft that saved many countless lives as we rushed the wounded and the sick out of the battlefield."
The Army Guard first began receiving the aircraft in the early 1970s and, at one time, the number of Hueys in the Guard hovered around 1,500.
"The 'whoop, whoop' of the [aircraft] will remain in our hearts," Jimenez said. "Thank you for a job well done."
FORMER MISS UTAH SPEAKS FOR GOOD HEALTH
Former Miss Utah and a finalist for Miss America, Jill Stevens-Shepherd has agreed to be the spokeswoman for the Army National Guard's Decade of Health program.
"When Decade of Health approached me, I said, 'How can I not do this?'" said Stevens-Shepherd, who was crowned Miss Utah in 2007 and served eight years in the Utah National Guard, including an 18-month tour in Afghanistan as a nurse with the 1st Battalion, 211th Aviation.
Decade of Health is a 10-year strategic campaign based on the belief that maintaining Guard force strength and sustaining critical operations rely heavily on healthy, fit soldiers and family members. The Army Guard chief surgeon's office funds and manages the program. More information is at www.decadeofhealth.com.
The duties for Stevens-Shepherd have not been finalized, but she envisions appearing in public service announcements and using social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to spread the program's message.
"I wouldn't mind going around to different units and speak to them and motivate them in any way," she said. "I'm open to all possibilities."
Stevens-Shepherd is an appropriate spokeswoman for the program. She doesn't drink or smoke and has taken part in 17 marathons. Last weekend, she finished the U.S. Army Ten-Miler in 71 minutes, 28 seconds and said it was good training for the Marine Corps Marathon later this month.
Dubbed G.I. Jill when she competed in the Miss America pageant in 2008, she has separated from the Guard, married and is "living the dream" as a critical care nurse in Salt Lake City.
She is going on a one-week morale tour through Afghanistan next week.
RECORD NATIONAL GUARD TURNOUT FOR ARMY TEN-MILER
The 25th U.S. Army Ten-Miler attracted a record 30,000 runners Sunday, including 1,400 National Guard members, also a record number. Forty-seven teams with names like Rum Runners and Flying Pigs represented the Guard in the race that honors the ultimate sacrifice of men and women serving in the Army and the Army Guard.
"Keep them in mind as you run today," said Maj. Gen. Raymond Carpenter, the acting director of the Army Guard, as he delivered a pep talk to Guardsmen prior to the race Sunday.
He recognized the children of Col. Paul Kelly, who was killed in a helicopter crash in Iraq in 2007. Kelly's children were running for the third year to honor their father.
Proceeds from the Ten-Miler go to Army Morale, Welfare and Recreation, a comprehensive network of support and leisure services designed to enhance the lives of soldiers and their families.
Among the Guard participants was Sgt. 1st Class David Pace, a master fitness trainer for the National Guard Bureau. For his first 10-mile race he trained by going on long-distance group runs, as well as cycling and hiking. His goal was to finish in 70 minutes, but said 75 minutes would be acceptable, before finishing in 73 minutes, 3 seconds.
Maj. Tammy Duckworth, who lost both legs in Iraq when her helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, took part. She is still a member of the Illinois National Guard and is assistant secretary of public and intergovernmental affairs for the Veterans Affairs Department.
Also running was Sgt. Jill Stevens-Shepherd of the Utah Guard. The former Miss Utah has participated in 17 marathons and was recently named spokeswoman for the Army Guard's Decade of Health program.
The Utah Guard team was the fastest Guard team. The fastest women's team in the Guard was the Women's Warriors from NGB.
President George W. Bush visited the National Guard Memorial in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 6, 2006, to unveil a bust representing his service in the Texas Air National Guard and also to reiterate the nation's resolve in the war on terrorism.
The likeness of the president, now on display at the memorial, was made possible by the National Guard Association of Texas Educational Foundation and dozens of its contributors. After the unveiling, Bush noted the Guard's contribution to the nation for nearly 400 years, including the current fight.
"As you protect your neighbors from natural disasters, you're also protecting the American people from terrorist dangers," Bush said.
The president also outlined progress in the war on terror, particularly noting for the first time a terrorist plot to fly an airplane into the tallest building in Los Angeles that he said was in the works just months after 9/11.
THIS WEEK IN GUARD HISTORY
Oct. 5, 1829: Fairfield, Vt. - President Chester A. Arthur is born. While practicing law in New York City prior to the Civil War, Arthur was appointed as a brigade quartermaster of the city's Guard units.
Once the war started, he quickly rose to become the Quartermaster General of New York, tasked with ensuring that New York soldiers had all the supplies they needed to prepare themselves to enter active duty in the Union Army. He inspected different garrisons and camps to see that the supplies, from clothing to tents, were adequate and available as needed. With New York contributing more than 100 regiments of infantry, plus cavalry and artillery units to the war effort, Arthur, who never saw combat, made sure tens of thousands of men were ready to fight.
After the war, he was appointed by President Ulysses S. Grant as the collector of the Port of New York, responsible for import tariffs, the largest single source of revenue for the federal government. He was a strong supporter of the Republican Party and was elected vice president in 1880 when James Garfield became the 20th president.
Just six months after taking office, Garfield was assassinated and Arthur became the 21st American president. He cleaned up much of the corruption known as the "spoils system" and signed the first general federal immigration law. He suffered from kidney problems and was not renominated to run again in 1884. He died in 1886.