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NGAUS Notes - October 16, 2009


October 16, 2009

Both the Army and Air National Guard reached their end-strength goals for fiscal year 2009, officials announced this week.

The Army Guard closed its books for the year with 358,391 soldiers, or 100.1 percent of its fiscal year end-strength goal of 358,200 soldiers. It also met its retention goal by retaining 36,672 soldiers, or 106 percent of its goal of 34,593 soldiers.

The Air Guard surpassed its 2009 end-strength goal with 109,196 airmen, or 102.3 percent of its goal of 106,756 airmen. The Air Guard also retained 17,904 airmen, or 120.1 percent of its goal of 14,904 airmen.

Success for the Army Guard meant reducing its end strength rather than gaining service members like other military counterparts. The size of the force was 368,727 in March, but it needed to reduce that number by September to the one approved by Congress, which was 358,200.

"Never before has the Army Guard been challenged to reduce its end strength by more than 11,000 soldiers within six months," said Army Lt. Col. Ron Walls, chief of the strength and maintenance division at the National Guard Bureau.

The Army Guard reduced end strength while meeting accession and retention goals.

"We had to do a full-court press with the 54 states and territories in order to ensure we were successful," Walls said. "We ensured each state could reach (its) end strength while maintaining retention."

Col. Mary Salcido, director of recruiting and retention for the Air National Guard, said her recruiters made "target recruiting" for specific jobs the goal for 2009.

"Recruiting the right people in the right place at the right time," she said. "That's our theme and that's what we did all year long."

The success in the Guard was reflected across all components of the military. For the first time since 1973, the year in which the draft ended, recruiters met their targets in both numbers and quality for all components of active duty and reserve forces.


Two men who served their nation, the National Guard and NGAUS for many years passed away this week.

Retired Maj. Gen. Robert Grant Moorhead died Sunday in Indianapolis. Retired Col. Thomas Kilgore Kirkpatrick passed away Monday in Baton Rouge, La.

Funeral services will be held Monday in Indianapolis for Moorhead, who dedicated 36 years to the U.S. military and served as assistant adjutant general in Indiana.

He served on the NGAUS Board of Directors, then known as the Executive Council, and was NGAUS treasurer, trustee of NGAUS Insurance Trust and a trustee of the National Guard Educational Foundation, then known as the Historical Society of the Militia and National Guard.

He was a recipient of the NGAUS Meritorious Service Award and the NGAUS Distinguished Service Medal, and was a member of the Legion de Lafayette.

A meeting room bears his name in the National Guard Memorial in Washington, D.C.

He was elected president of the Association of the United States Army in 1988 and 1990.

Services were held Thursday for Kirkpatrick, who was the longtime corporate counsel for the NGAUS Board of Directors. He joined the National Guard in 1975 after four years in the active Army's Judge Advocate General Corps, spending 30 years in the military.

He was director of the National Guard Youth Challenge Program in Carville, La. During that time, it was recognized as the national program of the year.

During the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, he was the state coordinating officer and alternate governor's authorized representative.

Anyone wishing to honor the two men with a contribution to NGEF may send it to: NGEF, One Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001.


First Lady Michelle Obama asked Americans to help relieve the burden placed on military families during this time of two foreign wars and increased security needs at home.

Speaking at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., on Thursday, she suggested non-military families help their neighbors serving in the military by cooking, carpooling or performing pro bono professional services.

"At the very least, each of us can do one simple thing and that is to take the time to say thank you," she said. "Thank you for the sacrifices that you are all making on behalf of this nation."

Obama vowed to make the voices of U.S. military families heard in the nation's capital and said she and Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, have embarked on a fact-finding mission to determine the pros and cons of what military families experience today.

"We're working to make sure that your voices are heard in Washington and that we can figure out how to raise up best practices and make sure that our efforts in Washington are trickling down to the folks who matter most and that's our servicemen and women and their families," she said.

She discussed legislation now in Congress that would allow a spouse time off in certain cases to spend with their wife or husband who is in the military.

"Congress has been working to extend Federal Family Leave protection to the family members of our regular active duty personnel so that they can take time off from work to be with their service member for deployment-related activities or to attend important family responsibilities," she said.


About a quarter million members of the National Guard and their family members have attended Yellow Ribbon Program events in the last two years.

Sgt. Maj. Robert Brown, the program coordinator for the National Guard Bureau, said the hope is to keep it growing. The program, which started in 2007 in Minnesota and expanded to the entire Guard, helps Guard members and their families cope with the stresses of a deployment.

"In 2008, the National Guard had over 110,000 attendees at events," he said recently at the Association of the United States Army annual meeting in Washington, D.C. "Fiscal year 2009, to date, we've done over 1,000 Yellow Ribbon ... events and ... we've had over 140,000 attendees. [For] 2010, the way ahead is to break the 200,000 mark."

Minnesota created the program to help members of the 34th Infantry Division who had been deployed 23 consecutive months. The 2008 National Defense Authorization Act mandated a national combat veteran reintegration program for the National Guard and Reserve, Brown pointed out.

The program is a cooperative network of military services, veteran service organizations, state government departments and other agencies that provide information, resources, referral and outreach to soldiers, spouses and children throughout all phases of a mobilization, Brown said.

Issues covered at events include suicide prevention, medical benefits, counseling, school support, youth programs, reintegration and employer support, as well as others. At a minimum, soldiers and family members who attend events are briefed on their benefits and connect with family readiness groups and family assistance centers, he said.


Legislation that would allow Guardsmen and Reservists to begin drawing retirement pay without waiting until their 60th birthday, and grant benefits to widows of those who die before reaching that age, was urged before a congressional committee on behalf of NGAUS in the summer of 1970.

And at the same time, Col. James B. Deerin, NGAUS executive director, told the group, the organization opposed a suggestion that Guardsmen and Reservists be denied dual credit for active military service and for Civil Service that was provided in law.

The presentation on both points was made to a special subcommittee on survivor benefits of the House Armed Services Committee.


Oct. 19, 1944: Aachen, Germany --- Newly promoted Lt. Gen. Raymond S. McLain assumes command of the XIX Corps. Two of the three divisions under his command are from the Guard: the 29th, which had soldiers from Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, and the 30th, with troops from North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. But dealing with Guard units is no problem for McLain, who began his military career as a private in the Oklahoma Guard in 1912.

In fact, he came from a background of Guard service. Several of his uncles had served in state volunteer units during the Spanish American War, including one who served in Cuba with the 1st Volunteer Cavalry, commonly known as the Rough Riders.

By 1916, just before McLain's unit, the 1st Oklahoma Infantry, deployed to the Mexican border, he was promoted to first lieutenant. In 1917, as his regiment was assigned to the newly organized 36th Division from Texas and Oklahoma for its deployment to France in World War I, McLain was promoted to captain. He saw combat in France, where he was gassed, but recovered. In the period between the wars, McLain returned to the Oklahoma Guard.

Despite his lack of formal education---he never graduated high school---through determined study and effort, he earned the rank of brigadier general in command of the 45th Division Artillery from Arizona, Colorado and Oklahoma by the time of the 1941 mobilization.

During the war, he had a variety of assignments including commanding the 90th Infantry Division, then fighting in Normandy. He found the 90th in complete disarray and worked hard to restore its morale and discipline.

Upon his promotion to lieutenant general to command the XIX Corps, he becomes the first Guardsman since the Civil War to hold the rank. The next Guardsman to hold three-star rank would also be an Oklahoman, Lt. Gen. La Vern E. Weber, National Guard Bureau chief from 1974 to 1982.

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