National Guard March 2012 : Page 16
NEWSBREAKS Panetta, Dempsey: Sequestration Would Defeat Defense Strategy The Pentagon’s senior leaders strongly warned Congress Feb. 16 that doubling defense spending cuts would leave the military without a workable strategy to counter staggering global threats. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chair-man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made their comments before the House Ap-propriations Committee’s defense sub-committee. Under the 2013 budget request, the Defense Department will spend $613.9 billion in fiscal 2013, divided between a $525.4 billion base budget and $88.5 billion covering war costs. The request incorporates the 2011 Budget Control Act’s requirement for a $487 billion reduction in defense spending over the next 10 years. The act also included a “sequestration” pro-vision for an additional $500 billion in across-the-board cuts to take effect in January 2013 if Congress does not pass a plan to reduce the budget. Panetta repeatedly has emphasized the 2013 DoD budget request sup-ports a new defense strategy, released in January, aimed at creating a smaller, more mobile and technologically ad-vanced joint force. The secretary has also emphasized keeping faith with the all-volunteer force and the families who support them. While he does not think Congress will permit sequestration, the secretary said, the threat alone is creating a “huge shadow of doubt” over defense indus-tries, their workers and the military. Panetta outlined global threats from ongoing war in Afghanistan to chal-lenges in the space and cyber domains to growing competition in the Pacific region and a volatile Middle East, where, he said, “any one of these coun-tries could explode on us.” A half trillion dollars in new defense cuts could result in a military unpre-pared to meet those threats, he said. “It is very important that we get to-gether—both the administration and the Congress—and we develop a pack-age ... to make sure this doesn’t hap-pen,” the secretary said. Dempsey said he shares the secre-tary’s “deep concerns, ... actually, anxi-eties, about sequestration.” growth. TRICARE payments are tied to those for Medicare. But the formula was flawed. Doctors soon would have received less com-pensation for seeing those patients. They threatened to stop seeing them, so Congress has been passing tempo-rary fix after temporary fix. NGAUS supports a permanent so-lution that would take the uncertainty out of it for both patients and doctors. Congress says that would cost $316 billion over the next decade. Some have suggested using the money saved from ending the wars in Iraq and Af-ghanistan. Even the legislation passed last month has its opponents, mainly be-cause the money to fund it will come, in part, from prevention programs and reduced payments to hospitals, labs and nursing homes. Last month’s action ensures this will be an issue once again late this year. Congress Once Again Delays Physician Compensation Cut Physicians who treat TRICARE pa-tients will not see the cut in their com-pensation that was scheduled to begin March 1. The 27.4 percent reduction was avoided as part of the legislation passed last month that extended the Social Security payroll tax credit. The bill includes $18 billion to stave off these cuts. But all this does is kick that well-dented can down the road once again, this time to the end of the year. At least for now, physicians who treat Medicare and TRICARE patients are less likely to turn away those pa-tients, which had been feared if the cuts went into effect. The problem has been ongoing for years. It began in 1997 with a debt-re-duction law that linked Medicare pay-ments to a formula based on economic McKinley: Guard Ready for Shifting Operational Focus With today’s conflicts winding down, the National Guard stands pre-pared for new missions, the chief of the National Guard Bureau told National War College students at Fort Lesley J. McNair in Washington, D.C., Feb. 8. “These last 10 years have been deci-sive for us,” said Gen. Craig R. McKin-ley. “Our capabilities have increased and our competency has increased.” One way the Guard stands ready to contribute to the nation’s changing operational focus is in worldwide part-nership-building through the National Guard State Partnership Program ( re-lated story, page 20 ). National Guard Casualties One Army National Guard soldier lost his life from Jan. 17 to Feb. 17 while supporting the war on terrorism, according to Defense Department casualty reporting. • Sgt. 1st Class Billy A. Sutton , 42, of Tupelo, Miss., died 16 Feb. 7 in Uruzgan province, Afghanistan, of a noncombat-related medical condition. He was a member of the Mississippi Army National Guard’s 223rd Engineer Battalion, 168th Engineer Brigade, from West Point, Miss. | Na tional Guard
Panetta, Dempsey: Sequestration Would Defeat Defense Strategy
The Pentagon’s senior leaders strongly warned Congress Feb. 16 that doubling defense spending cuts would leave the military without a workable strategy to counter staggering global threats.
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made their comments before the House Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee.
Under the 2013 budget request, the Defense Department will spend $613.9 billion in fiscal 2013, divided between a $525.4 billion base budget and $88.5 billion covering war costs.
The request incorporates the 2011 Budget Control Act’s requirement for a $487 billion reduction in defense spending over the next 10 years. The act also included a “sequestration” provision for an additional $500 billion in across-the-board cuts to take effect in January 2013 if Congress does not pass a plan to reduce the budget.
Panetta repeatedly has emphasized the 2013 DoD budget request supports a new defense strategy, released in January, aimed at creating a smaller, more mobile and technologically advanced joint force.
The secretary has also emphasized keeping faith with the all-volunteer force and the families who support them.
While he does not think Congress will permit sequestration, the secretary said, the threat alone is creating a “huge shadow of doubt” over defense industries, their workers and the military.
Panetta outlined global threats from ongoing war in Afghanistan to challenges in the space and cyber domains to growing competition in the Pacific region and a volatile Middle East, where, he said, “any one of these countries could explode on us.”
A half trillion dollars in new defense cuts could result in a military unprepared to meet those threats, he said.
“It is very important that we get together— both the administration and the Congress—and we develop a package ... to make sure this doesn’t happen,” the secretary said.
Dempsey said he shares the secretary’s “deep concerns, ... actually, anxieties, about sequestration.”
Congress Once Again Delays Physician Compensation Cut
Physicians who treat TRICARE patients will not see the cut in their compensation that was scheduled to begin March 1.
The 27.4 percent reduction was avoided as part of the legislation passed last month that extended the Social Security payroll tax credit. The bill includes $18 billion to stave off these cuts.
But all this does is kick that welldented can down the road once again, this time to the end of the year.
At least for now, physicians who treat Medicare and TRICARE patients are less likely to turn away those patients, which had been feared if the cuts went into effect.
The problem has been ongoing for years. It began in 1997 with a debt-reduction law that linked Medicare payments to a formula based on economic Growth. TRICARE payments are tied to those for Medicare.
But the formula was flawed. Doctors soon would have received less compensation for seeing those patients. They threatened to stop seeing them, so Congress has been passing temporary fix after temporary fix.
NGAUS supports a permanent solution that would take the uncertainty out of it for both patients and doctors.
Congress says that would cost $316 billion over the next decade. Some have suggested using the money saved from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Even the legislation passed last month has its opponents, mainly because the money to fund it will come, in part, from prevention programs and reduced payments to hospitals, labs and nursing homes.
Last month’s action ensures this will be an issue once again late this year.
McKinley: Guard Ready for Shifting Operational Focus
With today’s conflicts winding down, the National Guard stands prepared for new missions, the chief of the National Guard Bureau told National War College students at Fort Lesley J. McNair in Washington, D.C., Feb. 8.
“These last 10 years have been decisive for us,” said Gen. Craig R. McKinley.
“Our capabilities have increased and our competency has increased.” One way the Guard stands ready to contribute to the nation’s changing operational focus is in worldwide partnership- building through the National Guard State Partnership Program (related story, page 20).
“It’s really been something that our states and territories have wanted to participate in,” McKinley said. “That’s why you see some of our states have more than one partnership. Now, in the new national strategy where we will all spend a lot more time doing partnerships, this is a great framework to do that.”
Building relationships, McKinley stressed, is also important for those going through the War College.
“That is another reason why you’re here,” he said. “It’s to make friendships and build relationships that will last a lifetime. This crowd, I think it’s a much more integrated group.”
Continued integration is key, including continued integration of the Guard into ongoing or upcoming operations, he said.
One of the keys to doing that successfully is to understand the way the Guard operates, said McKinley, explaining the differences between Title 10, Title 32 and State Active Duty statuses.
“It really isn’t important to [Guardsmen] what status they’re in,” he said. “You just give them the mission, and they’ll do it. What is important to you as a leader is that you understand what type of soldier or airman you’re getting.”
McKinley emphasized the Guard’s domestic mission. The ability to properly respond to a natural disaster means continued training and keeping equipment current, he said.
“If your National Guard is not trained, organized and equipped properly and well led—hopefully by some people who have been through this course—then maybe we’re not able to do as good a job when we’re out in a Hurricane Katrina-type situation,” McKinley said.
Day by Day: Pentagon Initiates Prorated Imminent Danger Pay
Service members now will receive imminent-danger pay only for days they actually spend in hazardous areas.
The change, which took effect in January, was included in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act. It was to show up for the first time in the Feb. 15 paychecks.
The act called for the Defense Department to pay service members imminent- danger pay only for the time they spend in areas that qualify for the pay. In the past, service members received $225 per month if they spent any time that month in an area where the pay was authorized.
Now, service members will receive $7.50 a day for days spent in these areas. Personnel who travel to the designated areas for periods less than 30 days should keep track of the number of days they are in the area to verify that they are paid for the correct number of days, officials said.
Proration is based on a 30-day month, which translates into a rate of $7.50 per day. It does not matter if the month is 28 or 31 days long, officials explained. If service members serve in affected areas for the complete month, they will receive the full rate of $225 per month.
More than 50 areas worldwide qualify troops for danger pay.
Service members who come under fire, regardless of location, will receive the full monthly hostile-fire pay amount of $225.
NGAUS Accuses Veterans Affairs Of Snubbing Mental Health Law
NGAUS and the Wounded Warrior Project have accused the Department of Veterans Affairs of failing to implement a program to address the mental health and employment needs of veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq and the mental health needs of their families.
Pete Duffy, the NGAUS deputy legislative director, and Ralph Ibson, the senior fellow for health policy at the Wounded Warrior Project, have met with VA officials and congressional staff to push for complete and immediate implementation of the law.
The organizations claim VA is not in compliance with Section 304 of the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010. It targets veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq while in the National Guard and Reserves.Specifically, the two organizations say VA has failed to create statutorily required peer-to-peer outreach and support services for these veterans and to provide mental health services to their families, to assist in the readjustment of the veteran and family after the deployment.
The section also directs VA to contract with private entities in rural areas not adequately serviced by the VA to provide the services and to train veterans to provide peer outreach and support services both within the VA and at private entities.
VA claims these programs already exist at Vet Centers operated by VA.
Duffy says the law expanded preexisting programs at Vet Centers by requiring the delivery of family mental health and peer-to-peer veteran outreach services at VA medical centers and clinics and private community entities.
“As terrific as the Vet Centers are with their peer-to-peer outreach, they do not have the full range of mental health services that are available with the VA Office of Mental Health Services,” he said.
Having these services available at the medical centers would encourage more veterans and their families to enroll in VA for the full range of services available to them. Implementation of the peer-to-peer veteran training and employment programs would also give an immediate boost to the employment needs of Guard and Reserve veterans.
DoD Lifts Rules, Expands Combat Roles for Women
Military women will see more than 14,000 new job or assignment opportunities because of policy changes the Pentagon announced last month.
The changes are included in a report the department submitted to Congress and based in part on findings the Military Leadership Diversity Commission reported in March of last year.
A news release that accompanied the announcement quotes Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta as saying women have proven themselves in and Out of battle the last several years.
“Women are contributing in unprecedented ways to the military’s mission,” he said. “Through their courage, sacrifice, patriotism and great skill, women have proven their ability to serve in an expanding number of roles on and o the battlefield.
“We will continue to open as many positions as possible to women so that anyone qualified to serve can have the opportunity to do so,” Panetta added.
The biggest barrier DoD is lifting is a 1994 policy prohibiting women from jobs, such as tank mechanic and field artillery radar operator, that are performed near combat units. With that bar removed, more than 13,000 Army jobs will be available to women soldiers for the first time.
The second change is an “exception to policy” that will allow the Army, Navy and Marines to open select positions at the battalion-level in jobs women already occupy.
The current policy, also set in 1994, bars women in jobs such as intelligence, communications and logistics from assignment at units smaller than a brigade. Nearly 1,200 assignments will open to women soldiers, sailors and Marines under the exceptions.
As the law requires, the Defense Department will not implement the new policies until Congress has been in continuous session for 30 days, which should happen later this spring.
Contractor Deaths Outnumber Military Deaths in Afghanistan
More civilian contractors were killed in Afghanistan last year than U.S. troops.
At least 430 employees of companies working for the U.S. government died last year, according to the New York Times. By comparison, American military deaths numbered 418.
The newspaper reports that the trend has been moving in that direction For a few years and was also true in Iraq, where contractor deaths outnumbered military deaths in 2009.
Private employers are not obligated to report deaths of their workers and often notify only family members. The figures were gathered by the newspaper from the American embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, and the Department of Labor.
The deaths of contractors include 386 working for the Defense Department, 43 for the U.S. Agency for International Development and one for the State Department.
However, some experts who study the issue believe the death count may be higher.
“No one believes we’re under reporting soldier deaths,” said Steven L. Schooner, a law professor at George Washington University who has studied civilian casualties in war. “Everyone believes we’re under reporting contractor deaths.”
“Mr. Secretary, General Dempsey, you talk about hard choices, you talk about accepting some measure of risk, but you also point out the ground forces will still be higher than after 9/11, there will still be the Joint Strike Fighter, there will still be aircraft carriers roughly at the same level. Where is the risk, and what are the hard choices?”
—Reporter asking a question,
Pentagon press conference on the proposed budget,
TOO MUCH RISK
“Every American should be concerned about what these cuts mean to our ability to safeguard our national interests in a time of dynamic change around the world.”
—Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.,
ranking member, Senate Armed Services Committee,
statement on the proposed defense budget, Jan. 26
“The framers make clear that the militia, what has become our National Guard, is intended to be the permanent military force.”
—Editorial on Air Force plans to divest
the Block 30 Global Hawk and the C-27J,
“Waste In The Air,” Defense News, Feb. 20
BLOOD, SWEAT AND HOPE
“We’ve invested a lot of time, a lot of manpower and a lot of effort into Afghanistan and Iraq for what I feel are the right reasons. It’s just a matter of whether it works out or not.”
—First Lt. Craig Bald, Maryland Army National Guard,
“Maryland Guard Fights On In Hope Of Afghan Peace,”
Baltimore Sun, Jan. 30
“December 17 was the first day in over 20 years that the U.S. did not fly a sortie over Iraq.”
—Air Force Secretary Michael Donley,
“U.S. Air Force Reveals Budget Cut Details,”
Aerospace Daily & Defense Report, Feb. 3
DoD Recognizes Best Guard Family Groups
Texas and Wisconsin National Guard units were recognized Feb. 17 during the 2012 Defense Department Reserve Family Readiness Awards ceremony at the Pentagon.
Representing the Army and the Air National Guard were Wisconsin’s 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation, and Texas’ 136th Airlift Wing from Texas.
Edith Pond, the Family Readiness Group program manager of the Wisconsin unit, said representing the Army Guard was an incredible honor.
She said, “To have the opportunity to receive support from our community, as well as provide support for our community has been just wonderful overall.”
The hard work and dedication of FRG members to ensure families are taken care of back home can ensure soldiers and airmen stay focused on the mission.
Laura Wedel, the 136th FRG leader, said, “We really want our members to keep their head on and we want them [to know] that we will handle the families and work with the families.”
Pentagon: Delay Parade Until All Troops Home
Pentagon officials say they’re all for a “New Yorkstyle tickertape parade” honoring combat troops who served in Iraq, but bowing to the military leadership’s wishes, agree that the best time to do so is after all combat troops have returned home from Afghanistan as well.
Douglas B. Wilson, the assistant defense secretary for public affairs, told LynnNeary of NPR’s Talk of the Nation program that the Defense Department fully supports homecoming celebrations for Iraq War veterans.
Wilson said there’s always been interest in a nationallevel celebration to honor troops returned from Iraq.
“The question was not whether to have a parade, but when to do so,” he said.
Based on input from the military, Wilson said, the sentiment is that now is too soon, particularly because many Iraq war veterans now are deployed to Afghanistan. The consensus, he said, was “that kind of event should wait and that it would be more appropriately held when combat troops were coming home.”
Medications Added to Military Drug Testing
The Defense Department’s drug-testing program is expanding to add screening for two additional prescription medications to the range of legal and illegal drugs it currently detects.
Joe Angello, the Pentgon’s director of operational readiness and safety, said the two drugs added to the screening program—-hydrocodone and benzodiazepines—are among the most abused prescription drugs on the market. The program already tests for codeine and morphine, he noted.
As patterns of drug misuse change, the testing program responds by adding more testing procedures, he noted.
Hydrocodone is a component of a number of prescription painkillers, including Vicodin, while benzodiazepines are a class of antidepressant medication present in a range of drugs that in-Cludes Xanax and Valium.
Angello said the DoD announced the new screenings 90 days before they would take effect, which is unprecedented in the more than 40 years since military drug testing began. The memorandum went out Jan 31.
“The memorandum is giving you a 90-day warning order,” Angello said. A service member addicted to prescription drugs, he added, should seek medical help.
Service members with prescriptions for the two drugs will not be subject to disciplinary action for using them within the dosage and time prescribed, Angello said.
Marine Tapped for Southern Command
President Barack Obama has nominated Lt. Gen. John F. Kelly to be the next commander of U.S. Southern Command, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta announced last month.
If confirmed by the Senate, Kelly would replace Gen. Douglas M. Fraser at the Miami-based command. Fraser, who took over command of SOUTHCOM in June 2009, has not announced his future plans, a command spokesman said.
Kelly is the former commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, based at Camp Pendleton, Calif. He commanded the 1st MEF through a yearlong mission in Iraq’s al Anbar and Ninewa provinces beginning in early 2008.
SOUTHCOM comprises a multinational staff of about 1,200 military members, civilians and contractors, including representatives of more than a dozen Federal agencies, with a primary mission of protecting southern approaches into the United States, a spokesman said.
The command works with 31 countries and 15 territories on regional security challenges—mainly from transnational organized crime—humanitarian assistance and developing capabilities for keeping the peace.
The command sponsors seven annual multinational training exercises and participates in combined military exercises in Brazil, Chile and elsewhere.
National Guard units are regular participants in SOUTHCOM operations and exercises.
Crisis Help Available Via Text-Messaging
The Department of Veterans Affairs is expanding its efforts to prevent suicide through a new, free, confidential text-messaging service in the existing Veterans Crisis Line.
In addition to the Crisis Line (1-800-273-8255, Press 1) and online chat (www.veteranscrisisline.net), veterans and service members in crisis—and their friends and families—now may text free of charge to 838255 to receive confidential, personal and immediate support.
The text service is available, like the Veterans Crisis Line and online chat, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year and connects a user with a specially trained VA professional— many of whom are veterans.
staff and Pentagon reports
Army Brings Prototype Vehicle to Chicago Auto Show
Military vehicles are not the first image that comes to mind when thinking of an auto show, but the U.S. Army’s newest concept models were among about 1,000 vehicles on display last month at the 2012 Chicago Auto Show.
The U.S. Army Detroit Arsenal sent a collection of today’s military fleet, as well as two new concept hybrid models from its research, development and engineering center, to showcase some of the latest efforts to save energy, money and lives.
The two Clandestine Extended Range Vehicles are light-weight, diesel-electric hybrid prototypes that have been engineered for reconnaissance, targeting and rescue missions.
With a top speed of 80 mph, the CERVs have a “silent run” capability of eight miles, can ascend a 60-percent grade, have a torque rating of 5,000 pounds and have a decreased fuel consumption of 25 percent over conventional models.
“The amount of fuel that we can save will reduce the amount of soldiers that are out on convoys providing all the logistics tail that we have,” said Lt. Col. Andres Contraras of the Army’s Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) in Warren, Mich.
He said using hybrid technology throughout the Army’s tactical fleet could eventually eliminate the need for thousands of the troops on the battlefield who are engaged in fuel delivery.
“This CERV vehicle is an example of the hybrid technology that’s good for the economy, good for the environment, [and] also good for the Army in reducing its logistic footprint,” Contraras said.
The new green vehicles were developed by TARDEC in cooperation with California-based Quantum Technologies.
The Army also works with the National Automotive Center to develop dual-use technologies with the Detroit automakers on components such as advanced suspension technologies, advanced batteries, hybrid and electric technologies and nonprimary power sources like auxiliary power units.
“I think in the Army of the future, you’re going to see more hybrid technology and all the green technology that the automotive industry is gearing toward,” Contreras said.
By Sue Meade
State Partnership Program Seen as a Solution in Constrained Environment
Many participants at the fifth Unified Quest seminar last month said one Army National Guard program could go far in expanding capabilities for the force of the future.
The State Partnership Program already pairs Guard commands with 63 nations around the world for training and civil-military cooperation. Participants in Unified Quest felt expanding this type of partnership could help build capacity to shape the Army of 2020.
“The utility of the Guard and the Reserve in this shaping operation is absolutely huge and in my opinion deserves a lot of deep-mining and rigorous thinking and analysis into how to get more out of this,” said retired Lt. Gen. James M. Dubik, a senior fellow at the Institute for The Study of War.
At Unified Quest, hosted by the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), Feb. 7 to 10 in Potomac, Md., experts from the military and other government agencies focused on how the Army can build partners and capacity in an era of constrained resources
Lt. Gen. Mark P. Hertling, the commander of U.S. Army Europe, said the Guard from 27 states partners with 27 countries in Europe.
“They all do a phenomenal job, primarily at the lower tactical level,” he said.
Gen. Robert W. Cone, the TRADOC commanding general, said he was aware of the efforts of the Guard partnering with foreign nations.
“But I think when General Hertling spoke about the 27 relationships the National Guard has with other countries, my eyes were opened.
“The Army is in a period of transition and the nation is in a period of transition, looking toward the post-Afghanistan period and with our operational construct of prevent, shape and win, really want to examine opportunities in the area of building partner capacity,” he said.
—By Rob Mcilvaine
Below is an excerpt from the February 1990 issue of NatioNal Guard. It’s part of a series of relevant articles from the publication’s more than 65 years of archives.
NGAUS President’s Message: History Speaks For Retaining a Strong Defense Structure
With the thawing of the Cold War, thoughts have prevailed about the significance of this “peacetime war’s” end and what impact this perceived end will have on our military forces and, more particularly, the National Guard. Historically, after each war, the United States has demobilized its armed forces to the lowest levels possible.
These demobilizations not only applied to the active forces but also to the Guard and Reserve. In so doing, history shows that our initial readiness has been less than what the threat required. ...
Beginning with the first demobilization following the Revolutionary War, when we completely disbanded our standing army, save a few officers and 80 enlisted men, the United States has traditionally maintained a small standing armed force. The nation would have creeping increases in conjunction with rising conflicting relations. War was enjoined and mobilization occurred.
Once the issues appeared to be resolved and relations returned to “normal,” the force was immediately reduced. In the same stead, little effort was given to the training and readiness of the National Guard …
Mobilization is not just the issue here. Also at issue is how our forces have had to learn by “shock” during the initial engagements.
It is the Total Force Policy that has put the United States defense strategy well on the mark. ... For the first time, the National Guard received first-line equipment. Our training requirements are consistent with our wartime mission. ...
As our nation’s leaders seriously consider force structure-force mix, we need to remind them that the Total Force Policy has established new precedents. As we “draw down” during this peacetime demobilization, let’s focus on recent history and avoid past precedents. Maintaining the National Guard’s readiness is the only way to ensure a small active force is viable and can fulfill our responsibility to support freedom and self-determination worldwide.
Did You Know?
A 2011 Pentagon report said that even when mobilized, Guard units cost less to operate than active-component units.
Source: Department of Defense
Read the full article at http://www.nationalguardmagazine.com/article/Newsbreaks/986528/102073/article.html.