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NGAUS Notes - December 31, 2009

December 31, 2009
Happy New Year!

Deadly: 2009 Toll in Afghanistan Twice That in Iraq

Afghanistan was the deadliest battleground for U.S. troops in 2009, according to Pentagon records cited today in USA Today.

The newspaper reports that more than 300 U.S. troops died in Afghanistan this year, compared with 148 in Iraq. This is the first year since the war in Iraq began in 2003 that more troops died in Afghanistan.

Analysts tell the newspaper to expect that trend to continue for 2010. President Obama has ordered an increase in troops in Afghanistan to bring the American total to about 100,000. Allies are putting 50,000 troops in the country.

“It looks like 2010 is going to be pretty nasty” in Afghanistan, John Pike, director of, told the newspaper. “It's going to be nasty simply because there will be more Americans to be shot. The Taliban are unabated.”

James Carafano, a military analyst with the Heritage Foundation, said, “Casualties in Afghanistan are likely to go way up, at least initially. That's because we will be taking the fight to the enemy. I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing.”

Necessity: Defeating IEDs Top Goal for Defense Department

As the Pentagon's program designed to defeat roadside bombs changed commanders Wednesday, military officials said winning that battle is a priority.

“We must preclude the (improvised explosive device) from impacting us strategically,” said Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz, who stepped down as director of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO). “We cannot allow this weapon to influence the national-level decisions of our most senior leaders.”

Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III said the anti-IED program, which was handed to Lt. Gen. Michael Oates in the ceremony at the Pentagon, has accomplished much in the four years since it was created.

But, he said, the threat continues. IEDs claimed the lives of 41 coalition soldiers in Afghanistan and one in Iraq during the month of October, he said, making them “a clear and present danger.”

“In Afghanistan, we are up against a determined and clever foe who mastered the use of this deadly technology long before our forces set foot in the mountains of Hindu Kush,” Lynn said.

He said the Soviets lost nearly 2,000 soldiers and 1,200 vehicles during their nine-year war in Afghanistan.

“Our ability to project power in this world of asymmetric threats and to secure our population at home depends on JIEDDO's success,” he said.

Nominate: Show Your Employer Some Appreciation

Nominations will be accepted until Jan. 18 for the Freedom Award, which is presented each year to 15 employers who show outstanding support for employees serving in the reserve component of the U.S. military.

Presented since 1996 by the Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), the award identifies employers big and small, public and private who go the extra mile for their employees who are called to serve on active duty.

To make a nomination online, go to and fill out the nomination form. It is the highest award given by the Defense Department to recognize the role of employers. The 15 winners will be announced in March.

More than 3,200 nominations were submitted to ESGR in 2009.

Nominations can be made also for the Patriot Award. It recognizes employers with a certificate and accompanying lapel pin. To nominate, go online at and click on the Patriot Award link.

Patriot Award nominees are eligible for greater recognition if the accompanying information meets the qualifications.

Magazine: Texas Unit Transforms; New NGAUS Chief Tells Priorities

When a wing loses its fighter aircraft and is handed unmanned aerial vehicles as a replacement, some adjustments are necessary. The 147th Reconnaissance Wing of the Texas Air National Guard understands this as well as anybody. They went through it. And they tell how they did it in the January issue of National Guard, which is being mailed to NGAUS members this week.

NGAUS has a new president. Retired Maj. Gen. Gus Hargett takes the reins of the association's Washington, D.C., office next week. In an interview, he talks about his plans and his priorities to lead NGAUS in the years ahead.

The budget problems states are suffering are affecting the National Guard. Some armories have closed; others will get only emergency upkeep. Programs are being cut. So far, readiness has been untouched,  but adjutants general are casting a worried eye on the future. Their concerns are noted in a story in next month's issue.

A dog became the toast of the Western Front during World War I. Sgt. Stubby would go on to meet presidents. And a young lieutenant in World War II showed tremendous courage in action that earned him the Medal of Honor. Both of these stories are part of the history of the Connecticut National Guard, which is told in next month's Guard Roots feature.

In the monthly message from the NGAUS chairman of the board, Maj. Gen. Tod Bunting says 2009 has been a good year, but says there is more to do in 2010. … Richard Green, the NGAUS legislative director, wonders why some people consider the Air Guard inaccessible.

All of this and more is in the January issue of National Guard.

Association History

Work began on the National Guard Museum at the National Guard Memorial in Washington, D.C., in October 2001.

The National Guard Educational Foundation board of directors approved final design plans in July and finalized a construction contract in September with Design & Production of Lorton, Va.

Reaching this point had been a 12-year odyssey. The foundation established the Minuteman Trust in 1989 to collect and manage funds to build the only national museum dedicated to the Guard. The trust raised about $1.7 million.

The museum was dedicated on Dec. 13, 2002.

The museum and its research library are open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, or by appointment. Admission is free. More information is available at

This Week in Guard History

Dec. 31, 1880: Uniontown, Pa. — George C. Marshall, future chief of staff of the Army during World War II and later secretary of state and defense secretary, is born. One of the most important American military leaders of the 20th century, he had several periods of service working directly with the National Guard.

After graduating from the Virginia Military Institute in 1901 he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the 30th U.S. Infantry. As a first lieutenant in 1912, he was assigned as an Army advisor and instructor to the Massachusetts National Guard. During World War I, he served as assistant chief of staff of the 1st Division in France, earning high praise for his detailed planning of the Cantigny offensive in May 1918. Reassigned to headquarters of the American Expeditionary Force, he helped plan two more offensives before the war's end. He was then assigned as Gen. John Pershing's aide-de-camp with the rank of major.

After the war, he served in several assignments, including as senior instructor with the Illinois National Guard from November 1933 to August 1936. Most of his time was spent assisting the Guard officers in the planning and performance objectives of the 33rd Division.

Soon after leaving the Illinois Guard, he was promoted to brigadier general and moved to Washington, D.C., to join the war plans division. Due to his considerable organizational talents, in August 1939, just as Europe is about to plunge into World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt appointed Marshall as Army chief of staff. He earned great distinction during the war, becoming one of the five people given a fifth star when the rank was created by Congress in 1945.

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