National Guard August 2012 : Page 14
NEWSBREAKS Senate Quickly Conﬁrms adjutants generals’ and governors’ New Guard Bureau Leaders thoughts, concerns, on the homeland The Senate on July 26 conﬁrmed Lt. mission.” Gen. Frank J. Grass to be the next chief Grass’ biography tells a quintes-of the National Guard Bureau and Maj. sential Guard story: In 1969, he en-Gen. Joseph L. Lengyel to be vice chief. listed in the Missouri Army Guard. Grass, who also will be a member He served as a traditional Guardsman, of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will be pro-juggling a civilian career with the U.S. moted to four-star general and Lengyel Army Corps of Engineers and family will add his third star with his promo-life with monthly drills. Twelve years tion to lieutenant general. after enlistment, in 1981, he earned They take their new positions early his commission. next month. Both are expected to par-He is currently deputy commander ticipate in the 134th General Confer-of U.S. Northern Command, which co-ence and Exhibition, Sept. ordinates federal military op-9-12 in Reno, Nev. ( story, erations in North America. page 47 ) Grass will succeed Gen. The Senate action fol-Craig R. McKinley, the ﬁrst lowed Grass’ July 19 hearing four-star general and ﬁrst in front of the Senate Armed to be appointed to the Joint Services Committee. Chiefs of Staff in the Guard’s Grass told the SASC that 375-year history. the Guard is an operational Lengyel, the senior U.S. Lt. Gen. force at a historic peak of Frank J. Grass defense official in Egypt, will readiness, its ranks ﬁlled with be the ﬁrst NGB vice chief seasoned citizen-soldiers and -airmen, since the position was re-established and a critical partner to the Army and and elevated to the three-star level by Air Force at home and abroad. the 2012 National Defense Authoriza-As NGB chief, he said, “I will work tion Act. to ensure the capabilities gained since He is a command pilot with more 9/11 are not lost and the investment than 3,000 ﬂying hours, mostly in the not squandered.” F-16 Fighting Falcon. Asked about the chief’s role on the His 30-year career includes exten-Joint Chiefs of Staff, Grass said, “As a sive service in the Texas Air National member of the Joint Chiefs, I [will] Guard and key assignments as com-deﬁnitely have to bring forward the mander of the 455th Expeditionary Operations Group at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, and commander of the Air National Guard Readiness Center at Joint Base Andrews, Md. Nominee for Air Force Chief Promises Better Guard Ties The man nominated to lead the Total Air Force says the active component and the Air National Guard must avoid the acrimony that marked the discus-sion earlier this year over plans to cut aircraft and personnel from the Guard. During his conﬁrmation hearing be-fore the Senate Armed Services Com-mittee last month, Gen. Mark A. Welsh III said he would work with Guard leadership “so that we never end up here again.” The debate that followed left the two services at odds with each other, but Welsh said he will try to heal that wound “because we are in a place we cannot stay.” A plan in the ﬁscal 2012 Air Force budget proposal to reduce the Air Guard’s ﬂeet and personnel end-strength resulted in rancorous debate and ended with Congress nixing the plan after governors got involved. Lawmakers accused Air Force lead-ers of failing to keep the Guard and governors informed. Welsh promised a “more inclusive coordination process” during any talks about the Guard’s future. National Guard Casualties Two Army National Guard soldiers lost their lives from June 21 to July 20 supporting the war on terrorism, according to Defense Department casualty reporting. r 4QD�f;4FSHJP&�f;1FSF[+S�f;�d;
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Senate Quickly Confirms New Guard Bureau Leaders
The Senate on July 26 confirmed Lt. Gen. Frank J. Grass to be the next chief of the National Guard Bureau and Maj. Gen. Joseph L. Lengyel to be vice chief.
Grass, who also will be a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will be promoted to four-star general and Lengyel will add his third star with his promotion to lieutenant general.
They take their new positions early next month. Both are expected to participate in the 134th General Conference and Exhibition, Sept. 9-12 in Reno, Nev. (story, page 47)
The Senate action followed Grass’ July 19 hearing in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Grass told the SASC that the Guard is an operational force at a historic peak of readiness, its ranks filled with seasoned citizen-soldiers and -airmen, and a critical partner to the Army and Air Force at home and abroad.
As NGB chief, he said, “I will work to ensure the capabilities gained since 9/11 are not lost and the investment not squandered.”
Asked about the chief’s role on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Grass said, “As a member of the Joint Chiefs, I [will] definitely have to bring forward the adjutants generals’ and governors’ thoughts, concerns, on the homeland mission.”
Grass’ biography tells a quintessential Guard story: In 1969, he enlisted in the Missouri Army Guard. He served as a traditional Guardsman, juggling a civilian career with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and family life with monthly drills. Twelve years after enlistment, in 1981, he earned his commission.
He is currently deputy commander of U.S. Northern Command, which coordinates federal military operations in North America.
Grass will succeed Gen. Craig R. McKinley, the first four-star general and first to be appointed to the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Guard’s 375-year history.
Lengyel, the senior U.S. defense official in Egypt, will be the first NGB vice chief since the position was re-established and elevated to the three-star level by the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act.
He is a command pilot with more than 3,000 flying hours, mostly in the F-16 Fighting Falcon.
His 30-year career includes extensive service in the Texas Air National Guard and key assignments as commander of the 455th Expeditionary Operations Group at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, and commander of the Air National Guard Readiness Center at Joint Base Andrews, Md.
Nominee for Air Force Chief Promises Better Guard Ties
The man nominated to lead the Total Air Force says the active component and the Air National Guard must avoid the acrimony that marked the discussion earlier this year over plans to cut aircraft and personnel from the Guard.
During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee last month, Gen. Mark A. Welsh III said he would work with Guard leadership “so that we never end up here again.”
The debate that followed left the two services at odds with each other, but Welsh said he will try to heal that wound “because we are in a place we cannot stay.”
A plan in the fiscal 2012 Air Force budget proposal to reduce the Air Guard’s fleet and personnel end strength resulted in rancorous debate and ended with Congress nixing the plan after governors got involved.
Lawmakers accused Air Force leaders of failing to keep the Guard and governors informed.
Welsh promised a “more inclusive coordination process” during any talks about the Guard’s future.
“It has to include better coordination and information sharing, not just with the Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve, but with the National Guard Bureau,” he said. “And clearly the link between the National Guard Bureau, the Council of Governors, the [adjutants general], has got to be energized in a more meaningful and productive way.”
Welsh is the commander of U.S. Air Forces Europe.
State Partnership Program Key In New U.S. Defense Strategy
Building partnership capacity is one of the least understood facets of the new defense strategy, and one in which the National Guard has taken the lead, a senior Defense Department official said last month in Washington, D.C.
Kathleen Hicks, the principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, spoke at a conference honoring the 20th anniversary of the National Guard’s State Partnership Program (SPP).
“Building partnership capacity is a core element of everything we do, and everything we hope to accomplish,” she said. “The defense strategic guidance affirmed clearly that alliances and partnerships are central to how we approach the current and future security environment.”
Simply put, the United States will develop partnerships with like-minded nations across the globe. While the United States maintains the right and the capability to act alone in defending national interests, that is unlikely to happen.
Developing these partnerships “is a critical skill set across the armed forces,” Hicks said.
All this fits perfectly with the SPP, she noted. The Guard serves as an example for developing countries on how militaries deal with and answer to civilian leaders.
“Guard members’ dual state and federal status affords them a broad range of skills and experience that are applicable to many challenges faced by partner nations,” Hicks said.
Sixty-four nations are linked to Guard organizations through the SPP. The latest is a relationship between South Carolina and the Republic of Colombia announced last month.
Changes to Army Pay System Expected to Reduce Mistakes
An Army Human Resources system is currently under development and targeted to improve the way the force manages soldiers’ information and pay.
Named the Integrated Personnel and Pay System-Army the system will help ensure soldiers—active, Guard and Reserve— are paid on time and accurately.
IPPS-A will enable the Army to automatically execute pay actions in response to approved personnel information Changes, such as a promotion. The Army intends to incrementally release the system over the next five years to accommodate necessary testing and training.
Officials said its automatic processes will help reduce errors and streamline soldier assignment transitions, particularly those between components.
In addition, soldiers will have 24/7 access to their personal information online and the ability to request changes electronically. This will enable human resources professionals to more efficiently and accurately execute soldiers’ human resources and pay actions.
Jeanne Brooks, the director of technology and business architecture integration, said IPPS-A also will give commanders greater visibility online over their soldiers.
“Today, commanders, S-1s, and HR specialists have to access multiple systems to acquire similar information for soldiers from different components. In some cases, particularly with the Guard and Army Reserve soldiers, data does not exist in any HR system,” she said.
To accomplish IPPS-A’s goal, the Army plans to have the system include the more than 50 stove-piped legacy HR systems currently in place.
IPPS-A is set for launch in fiscal 2013.
Ending Emotional Suffering Frequent Cause for Suicides
The desire to “end intense emotional suffering” was among the top factors cited by soldiers who had at some point attempted suicide, according to researchers from the University of Utah, who interviewed 132 troops at Fort Carson, Colo.
While the preliminary findings are informative, they are not altogether unexpected and it is hard to draw conclusions from a relatively small sampling, said Bruce Shahbaz, the special assistant to the director of Health Promotion, Risk Reduction and Suicide Prevention, Army G-1.
Shahbaz, a former combat medic, is not authorized to comment in detail about the study until it is published later this summer.
So, what contributes to “intense emotional suffering?”
“The most reoccurring stressor we’ve found over the last several years is psychological pain related to a failed relationship,” said Shahbaz.
He explained that a failed relationship could include anything from marital problems or girlfriend/boyfriend issues, to the loss of a parent or an extremely close friend.
Other contributing factors encompass a range of behavioral health issues, he said, including depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Frequency and duration of deploy-Ments have been widely discussed factors in recent years, but Shahbaz said the issue isn’t that simple. He said that while deployments have been trending down in the last few years, suicides have been edging up.
The Army announced last month that 147 soldiers died by suicide in the first six months of the year, an average of one every 30 hours. This includes 89 active-duty soldiers, 36 Army National Guard soldiers not on active duty and 22 Army Reserve soldiers not on active duty. This is 12 higher than the Army had at the same point last year.
VA Bolsters Online Access To Benefits Information
Nearly 1.7 million veterans and service members have registered for the Department of Veterans Affairs-Department of Defense web portal, eBenefits, which provides online information and access to a wide variety of military and veteran benefits resources.
A VA news release last month said about 1.67 million users have signed up, and notes the strong pace of registrations for the site since its launch in October 2009 has allowed VA to exceed its fiscal 2012 agency priority goal of 1. 65 million users. That puts it on track to meet the 2013 goal of 2.5 million.
The portal is online at https://www. Ebenefits.va.gov.
It guides newcomers through the registration process to get a full-access account, called a premier account, which allows maximum ability to update personal information and learn about benefits without having to visit a VA facility. With the premier account, veterans can access multiple applications on the secure portion of the website.
VA says it has completed a record breaking 1 million claims per year during the last two fiscal years and is on target to complete another 1 million claims in fiscal 2012.
Even so, the agency acknowledged too many veterans have to wait too long to get the benefits they have earned, and that is why VA is aggressively building a strong foundation for a paperless, digital disability claims system that it says will transform operations and eliminate the backlog.
Railways Industry Announces Job Opportunities for Veterans
The railways industry is looking to a hire people with military experience.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced a 5,000-job pledge for veterans in a conference call with reporters last month.
The rail jobs are open now or will be in the very near future. They are listed on the Association of American Railroad (AAR) website at www.aar.org.
Offered by about 500 companies, the positions range from operating loComotives to working in signaling and telecommunications.
The industry is hiring because it is growing, said Ed Hamberger, the president and CEO of AAR, with some $23 billion in investments at the same time that nearly 25 percent of the freight-rail workforce will be eligible to retire by 2015.
America’s railways have recruited veterans since it sought out military academy graduates to build the first railroad system more than 200 years ago, Hamberger said.
“We’ve learned that the skills service members learn in the armed forces translate very well to our industry,” he said. “We, first and foremost, are focused on safety. You learn in the armed services that if you don’t follow the rules, bad things happen.
The rail industry made more than 20,000 new hires last year—which was more than 5,000 than it expected—and one in four are veterans, Hamberger said.
America’s Class I freight railroads have been recognized by the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve for their longstanding commitment to support and hire Guardsmen and reservists.
Good Bosses: Small Church Among ESGR Award Recipients
A small town church in Mississippi, a major airline and international corporations were among the winners last month when Employer Support of the Guard and Reserved announced recipients of its highest award.
The Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award is the Defense Department’s highest recognition given to employers for exceptional support of National Guard and Reserve employees.
“Our military could not meet today’s national security demands without the Guard and Reserve, who, in turn, could not provide such dedicated service without the cooperation of their employers at home,” said Jessica L. Wright, the assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs. “These Freedom Award recipients have distinguished themselves nationally for their remarkable efforts, and we greatly appreciate their unwavering support.”
The 2012 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award recipients are: ..
Basin Electric Power Cooperative, Bismarck, N. D.;
Caterpillar Inc., Peoria, Ill.
Citi, New York, N.Y.;
Crystal Springs United Methodist Church, Crystal Springs, Miss.;
Delta Air Lines, Atlanta, Ga.;
Gary Jet Center, Gary, Ind.;
iostudio, Nashville, Tenn.;
Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety, Kalamazoo, Mich.;
L-3 Communications, New York, N.Y.;
Nyemaster Goode, Des Moines, Iowa;
Port of Seattle, Seattle, Wash.;
Siemens Corporation, Washington, D.C.;
Tennessee Valley Authority, Knoxville, Tenn.;
Uniform Color Company, Holland, Mich.; and
Verizon Wireless, Basking Ridge, N.J.
These honorees will be recognized at the 17th annual ceremony Sept. 20 in Washington, D.C.
New Website Should Help Deter Those Who Falsely Claim Valor
The Defense Department has launched a new website that honors service members’ highest acts of valor.
The site—at http://valor.defense.gov—is designed to raise awareness of service members’ heroism and to help deter those who falsely claim military honors, officials said.
It was unveiled less than a month after the Supreme Court on June 28 struck down the Stolen Valor Act, which made it illegal to lie about receiving military awards.
The nation’s highest court said the law violated freedom of speech.
But officials said the site’s primary purpose is to honor those who received the nation’s highest awards for valor since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. These are the Medal of Honor, service crosses and the Silver Star.
The listing covers only awards since Sept. 11, 2001. The site currently lists only those awarded the Medal of Honor, and will expand to include the other awards and conflicts, officials said.
—Compiled from staff and Pentagon reports.
TOUCHED BY WAR
“We’re a small town. I had known Nick since he was a little child.”
—Nancy Lindsey, resident of Berne, Ind., hometown of Spc. Nicholas Andrew Taylor, who was killed in combat, “Two Indiana Guardsmen Killed In Afghanistan,” Indianapolis Star, July 18
ART OF RECRUITING
“Where should we go, the philharmonic? We could certainly get some burly paratroopers if we advertised at the ballet.”
—Rep. Bill Posey, R-Fla., sarcastically opposing an amendment prohibiting Guard recruiting sponsorship of motorsports, “NASCAR sponsorships get House OK,” Politico, July 18
“[A]lthough human violence is at an evolutionary low, the capability to dispense violence is at an evolutionary high.”
—Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, National Guard Symposium on Mutual Security Cooperation, Washington, D.C., July 17
“We are, in terms of detection of all types of IEDs, vastly better than we were a year ago.”
—Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, “Drones Fight IEDs in Afghanistan,” USA Today, July 16
“The time is right to merge the units of the Army Reserve into the Army National Guard and the units of the Air Force Reserve into the Air National Guard, transferred in total: lock, stock, and barrel.”
—Retired Army Reserve Col. James Tyson Currie, “It’s time to merge Reserve forces,” The Hill’s Congress Blog, July 25
“It’s an unemployment Armageddon.” —Marion Blakey, president of the Aerospace Industries Association, “Defense Industry Says Budget Cuts May Cost 2 Million Jobs,” Bloomberg News, July 17
“I learned how to build a roof. I’ve never done that before in my life. I learned how to frame in doors and how to read a tape measure. … I’ve never been able to do that before.”
—Spc. Courtney Stewart, Kentucky National Guard, “Building a better environment: Kentucky’s ADT4 works to improve living conditions in Afghanistan,” Kentucky National Guard press release, July 16.
Read the full article at http://www.nationalguardmagazine.com/article/Newsbreaks/1138321/121390/article.html.