National Guard June 2011 : Page 12

CHAIRMAN’S MESSAGE Pentagon Change L Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala Chairman of the Board NGAUS One of our best assets is our ability to adapt quickly to new situations and people. AST MONTH WAS a busy time around the country. Our brothers and sisters in states bordering the Mississippi River fought to rescue citizens and save homes from rush-ing floodwaters. In Texas, Guardsmen fought back wildfires. In the south and midwest, the Guard helped people pick up the pieces after devastating tornadoes destroyed their communities. Meanwhile, thousands more of our soldiers and airmen were participating in the largest-ever, multiagency exercise involving an actual natural threat: a catastrophic earth-quake in the New Madrid Earthquake Zone. The Guard participates in these mis-sions willingly and ably. Each day holds a new challenge, but that’s what the Guard is about—we are always ready and always there, no matter what the task, no matter what the environment. Nowhere else in the world is that old saying, “Change is constant,” more true than it is in our force. Our pre-Sept. 11 selves would hardly recognize today’s Guard, which is perform-ing dynamic missions overseas while con-tinuing our proud tradition of responding to our neighbors in need. In fact, one of our best assets is our abil-ity to adapt quickly to new situations and people. And today, more than ever, we need to use that ability here in Washington. In the past few weeks, President Barack Obama has announced significant changes atop his national security team. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is retiring and current CIA Director Leon Pa-netta will soon take his place at the Penta-gon. Meanwhile, Gen. David Petraeus, who has shown great leadership in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, will move to the CIA. And to top it off, the term of Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will soon expire. Like I said, change is constant. NGAUS has spent countless hours forming relationships with these leaders, telling them the Guard story and reminding them of what we offer the nation. Secre-tary Gates, Admiral Mullen and General Petraeus now all understand that. We told them and you showed them, with your service. Together, we have made the Guard part of the conversation with these men. Now, with new leadership coming in, we’ll have to do that again. And we look forward to it. The stakes are high in all of this. The nation must address a budget deficit that is equal to any threat to our way of life posed by terrorism, a rouge state or Mother Nature. This means the defense budget most likely will be pared down. There has never been a more important time to remind our defense leadership of our capabilities and cost effectiveness. We have a highly skilled, highly trained force that can complete domestic and over-seas missions at a fraction of the cost of the active components. Through our work with Congress and behind the scenes with current Pentagon leaders, we’ve transformed the Guard’s old strategic-reserve structure into an opera-tional force fighting alongside the active components. Now, we’ll need to convince the new leadership that the Guard must continue to be operational into the future. We have some tools in our tool chest to help us. Support is strong from the Senate National Guard Caucus under the leader-ship of Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. They will help connect the Guard with new Defense Department leadership. And our staff at NGAUS will continue to forge relationships in Washington. All of the pieces are in place in the Guard to weather this change. If we can battle our enemies abroad and fight fires, floods and tornadoes at home, it should be no problem. That’s the way it is with us, and that’s why I’m proud to be a Guardsman. The NGAUS chairman can be contacted at frank.vavala@ngaus.org. 12 | Na tional Guard

Chairman's Message

Pentagon Change<br /> <br /> AST MONTH WAS a busy time around the country. Our brothers and sisters in states bordering the Mississippi River fought to rescue citizens and save homes from rushing floodwaters.<br /> <br /> In Texas, Guardsmen fought back wildfires. In the south and midwest, the Guard helped people pick up the pieces after devastating tornadoes destroyed their communities.<br /> <br /> Meanwhile, thousands more of our soldiers and airmen were participating in the largest-ever, multiagency exercise involving an actual natural threat: a catastrophic earthquake in the New Madrid Earthquake Zone.<br /> <br /> The Guard participates in these missions willingly and ably. Each day holds a new challenge, but that's what the Guard is about–we are always ready and always there, no matter what the task, no matter what the environment.<br /> <br /> Nowhere else in the world is that old saying, "Change is constant," more true than it is in our force.<br /> <br /> Our pre-Sept. 11 selves would hardly recognize today's Guard, which is performing dynamic missions overseas while continuing our proud tradition of responding to our neighbors in need.<br /> <br /> In fact, one of our best assets is our ability to adapt quickly to new situations and people. And today, more than ever, we need to use that ability here in Washington.<br /> <br /> In the past few weeks, President Barack Obama has announced significant changes atop his national security team.<br /> <br /> Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is retiring and current CIA Director Leon Panetta will soon take his place at the Pentagon. Meanwhile, Gen. David Petraeus, who has shown great leadership in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, will move to the CIA.<br /> <br /> And to top it off, the term of Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will soon expire.<br /> <br /> Like I said, change is constant.<br /> <br /> NGAUS has spent countless hours forming relationships with these leaders, telling them the Guard story and reminding them of what we offer the nation. Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen and General Petraeus now all understand that.<br /> <br /> We told them and you showed them, with your service.<br /> <br /> Together, we have made the Guard part of the conversation with these men. Now, with new leadership coming in, we'll have to do that again. And we look forward to it.<br /> <br /> The stakes are high in all of this. The nation must address a budget deficit that is equal to any threat to our way of life posed by terrorism, a rouge state or Mother Nature.<br /> <br /> This means the defense budget most likely will be pared down. There has never been a more important time to remind our defense leadership of our capabilities and cost effectiveness.<br /> <br /> We have a highly skilled, highly trained force that can complete domestic and overseas missions at a fraction of the cost of the active components.<br /> <br /> Through our work with Congress and behind the scenes with current Pentagon leaders, we've transformed the Guard's old strategic-reserve structure into an operational force fighting alongside the active components.<br /> <br /> Now, we'll need to convince the new leadership that the Guard must continue to be operational into the future.<br /> <br /> We have some tools in our tool chest to help us. Support is strong from the Senate National Guard Caucus under the leadership of Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.<br /> <br /> They will help connect the Guard with new Defense Department leadership. And our staff at NGAUS will continue to forge relationships in Washington.<br /> <br /> All of the pieces are in place in the Guard to weather this change.<br /> <br /> If we can battle our enemies abroad and fight fires, floods and tornadoes at home, it should be no problem.<br /> <br /> That's the way it is with us, and that's why I'm proud to be a Guardsman.<br /> <br /> The NGAUS chairman can be contacted at frank.vavala@ngaus.org.<br /> <br /> One of our best assets is our ability to adapt quickly to new situations and people. <br />

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