July 17, 2009
BOARD PREPARED TO SELECT NEXT NGAUS PRESIDENT
The NGAUS Board of Directors is set to name a new NGAUS president as it meets today and through the weekend at the National Guard Memorial in Washington, D.C.
The board plans to interview three final candidates for the position, which is currently held by retired Brig. Gen. Stephen M. Koper. Koper, who has been president since 2004, is retiring later this year.
The final interviews complete a months-long process. A NGAUS special committee, headed by past board chairman Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger, conducted the initial interviews and vetting process.
The board has a packed agenda for the weekend. Committee meetings actually started Thursday, and the board business meeting starts this afternoon. The board starts interviews with candidates around noon today.
There will also be a lot of time set aside for discussing the 131st NGAUS General Conference, to be held Sept. 11-13 in Nashville, Tenn.
Board members will also consider awards nominations during the meeting, as well as review the 2009 budget and a 2008 financial audit.
The company grade officers, professional development, audit, warrant officers, membership, awards, finance and audit committees will either meet or give reports to the board. The staff and board will also discuss a long-term strategic planning process.
In addition, Gen. Craig McKinley, National Guard Bureau chief, Lt. Gen. Harry "Bud" Wyatt, Air Guard director, and Maj. Gen. Ray Carpenter, acting Army Guard director, will address the board during and NGB update Saturday afternoon.
The weekend isn't all business, however. The board plans to travel to the Marine Barracks at 8th and I streets in Washington to view the Marine Corps Parade, a weekly drill and ceremony event open to the public.
The board will conclude the meeting Sunday.
GUARDSMEN URGED TO PURSUE STATE EDUCATION BENEFITS
Guard officials are encouraging Guardsmen who do not qualify for benefits under the new Post-9/11 GI Bill to explore state education benefits until a problem with the federal legislation can be rectified.
The new GI Bill that goes into effect Aug. 1 boasts the most comprehensive education benefits package since the original GI Bill was signed into law in 1944.
Many veterans who served 90 days on active duty since Sept. 11, 2001, receive tuition and fees, a new monthly housing stipend and $1,000 each year toward books and supplies. These benefits are applied incrementally for time served, whether the member mobilized is active duty or Guard.
But because of an oversight during the legislative process, the Post-9/11 GI Bill applies to Guardsmen who have served in Title 10 status only, leaving out those who served in Title 32 status.
Guardsman who only served in Title 32 status do not qualify for the new benefits, said Bob Clark, assistant director of accession policy for the Defense Department. However, that may change in the future because "we do plan to have this in our 2011 legislative agenda to take to the Congress," Clark said.
Guardsmen who have served in Title 32 status or in the Active Guard and Reserve program, but not under Title 10, should consult their state headquarters about education benefits, which vary significantly from state to state.
Many Guardsmen also have extensive education benefits stemming from the original Montgomery GI Bill, Blaine Coffey said, adding, "In many cases, we have members that are well-served by the existing provisions."
"Each of the state legislatures has prescribed various educational entitlements and benefits to our members," said Coffey, the National Guard Bureau's chief of personnel readiness and compensation. "The range of entitlement is pretty significant."
Because of the complexity of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, officials suggest Guardsmen should seek information available at www.gibill.va.gov to better understand their entitlement.
F-22 DOGFIGHT: GATES SAYS NO MORE, CONGRESS DISAGREES
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates reiterated his opposition to the F-22 Raptor in a speech in Chicago Thursday, saying the aircraft was "a niche silver bullet solution for one or two potential scenarios," but less capable for likely battles and more expensive than the F-35, which he prefers.
Gates has expressed his desire to cap the F-22 production at 187 planes. But armed services committees in the both the House and the Senate have voted to build 12 more.
President Obama has threatened to veto any defense bill that includes money for additional Raptors.
Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., who favors building more of the aircraft, told reporters, "If they say they are going to veto and we don't have the votes, we're going to have to get rid of the damn thing."
Earlier this week, Air Force leaders chimed in on the debate saying they agreed with Obama and Gates. Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz sent a letter to Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, saying more money for F-22s threatens other programs.
"Ultimately, buying more F-22s means doing less of something else and we did not recommend displacement of these other priorities to fund additional F-22s," they wrote.
A larger F-22 fleet is endorsed, however, by some in uniform, including Lt. Gen. Harry "Bud" Wyatt, the director of the Air National Guard, and Gen. John Corley, head of the Air Combat Command.
ARMY GUARD ON COURSE TO REACH END STRENGTH GOAL
The Army National Guard is changing recruiting policies to lower its end strength by the end of the fiscal year. These changes will enable the Army Guard to decrease its end strength from 362,493 soldiers to a congressionally mandated force of 358,200 by Sept. 30, according to information from the National Guard Bureau.
"When you go from a growth mode to a contraction mode, it takes six to eight months to move towards reduction," said Col. Michael Jones, commander of Army National Guard Strength Command.
The Army Guard devised a successful recruiting effort to grow from 330,000 in 2005 to more than 362,000 in 2008.
To adjust this year, the Army Guard is making changes that will affect both soldiers coming into the Guard and those transitioning out.
For those enlisting in the Army Guard, the enlistment age is lowered to 35 years of age from 42. Medical and bad conduct waivers will not be granted to new enlistees, and enlistment bonuses will be eliminated for all soldiers currently not serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.
"The discharge process was a little bit cumbersome and a little bit lengthy, so we've streamlined that," said Jones.
The service, too, will shift its focus to officer and warrant officer recruiting and encourage current enlisted members to consider these options.
These measures have had the desired effect. During a 12-week period recently ended, the Army Guard's end strength has fallen by about 500 per week.
Meanwhile, the Army Guard fell short of its recruiting goal for June, taking in 84 percent of its goal of 3,209 soldiers. The Air Guard took in 867 new airmen, which was 107 percent of its goal of 810.
The NGAUS Awards Program is designed to recognize individuals and organizations that, by superior performance, acts of heroism or service of a meritorious nature, make a contribution to the goals of the Association, to the purpose and effectiveness of the National Guard or to the stability and security of the United States.
The roots of the Awards Program go back to 1936 with the presentation of the first Pershing Plaque for marksmanship. In 1950, the first individual award, the Distinguished Service Medal, was adopted.
NGAUS will release the names of the 2009 individual award recipients early next week. Awards will be presented at the NGAUS conference. Information on the program is available on the NGAUS Web site at www.ngaus.org/awards.
THIS WEEK IN GUARD HISTORY
July 16, 1916: Mineola, N.Y. --- Capt. Raynal Bolling commanded the 1st Aero Squadron, New York National Guard, when it was mobilized during the Mexican Border Crisis. Using a variety of privately-owned aircraft, it was the first flying unit organized in the Guard. Though the unit was not deployed to the border before being released from active duty in November 1916, a large number of its members, including Bolling, joined the Signal Corps Reserve, which controlled all Army aviation, prior to the U.S. entry into World War I.
During the war, Bolling, now a colonel, was a leading planner of American air strategy. For instance, he determined and got approval for the use of British DeHavilands for observation and daylight bombing missions and British Bristols and French Spads as America's lead fighters.
While riding in a staff car near the front at Amiens, France, on March 26, 1918, he was surprised by advancing German troops. Bolling and his driver, coming under enemy fire, jumped into a ditch, where Bolling returned fire with his pistol, the only weapon either man had. He killed a German officer and almost immediately was killed himself by another officer. His may have been one of the few pistol fights to have occurred in World War I.
Bolling was posthumously awarded the French Legion of Honor and the American Distinguished Service Medal for his bold leadership and far-reaching vision of the role air power would come to play on the battlefield.
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