National Guard January 2012 : Page 14

CHAIRMAN’S MESSAGE Our Victory HE CORK REMAINS in my cham-pagne bottle as I write this month’s message to our membership, but that’s only because I’m waiting for the president to sign the fi scal 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). When he does, I’ll pop that cork and join all of you in toasting good news for the National Guard, NGAUS and the country. Of course, you all know what I’m talking about. The NDAA passed last month by both chambers of Congress will put the chief of the National Guard Bureau on the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). This is the biggest leg-islative victory for the Guard since the Dick Act early last century modernized the force. Almost certainly, President Barack Obama will have signed the bill by the time you read these words early in the new year. So, I congratulate all of you for this vic-tory. It validates what we said at our annual conference last year in Milwaukee about how our infl uence is local and stems from rela-tionships that we have developed over many years with our congressional delegations. Our true strength is derived from one of the basic pillars on which our country was founded in that “we the people” determine strategic military direction through our elected offi cials. My fellow adjutants general were in-spiring in this eff ort, capitalizing on their time-honored relationship networks to infl uence and cajole as only insiders can. The hometown force with the global reach manifested itself. You members of NGAUS were instru-mental in this victory. When you were asked to contact your representatives and urge them to support this eff ort, you did. And they listened to you. My hat is off to all of you. And doesn’t this victory, too, validate your membership in NGAUS? Your legisla-tive team at the NGAUS headquarters in Washington, D.C., wore out a lot of shoe leather tramping up to Capitol Hill and visiting offi ce after offi ce to explain face-to-face how having the chief of Guard bureau T Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala Chairman of the Board NGAUS When you were asked to contact your representatives and urge them to support this eff ort, you did. And they listened to you . on the JCS would help the country. If you ever wonder what NGAUS has done for you lately, remember this mo-ment. Even the opposition of the four ser-vice chiefs, the current chairman and vice chairman of the JCS and powerful senators couldn’t derail this achievement. I don’t want you to be misled, however. We will not see signifi cant change anytime soon. But please understand that issues like homeland security, emergency operations and the welfare of 470,000 Guardsmen will now be addressed at the highest level of decision making in the Pentagon. That’s worth lifting a glass of bubbly. And let’s not forget as we celebrate this historic success that the real reason mem-bers of Congress eagerly put their names on this legislation is because the National Guard has performed so magnifi cently in the years since 9/11. You have traveled multiple times to war zones. You have shed your civilian clothes and donned your uniform when natural forces from fi re to fl ood threatened your neighbors. You have displayed courage and patriotism with watchful eyes on our border to the south and with strong hearts in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan. It is because of your eff orts, in fact, that we are able to say today that the war in Iraq has ended. The mission has been accom-plished and our military presence in that country is no longer necessary. So, as we celebrate this legislative victory with a toast, we also should take a moment to remember our colleagues and friends— our fellow Guardsmen—who fell in battle and are not able to enjoy this day with us. It is our solemn duty to never forget their sacrifi ce and to remember that they served willingly and with full understand-ing of the possible consequences. It is for that reason, and many others, that I’m proud to be a Guardsman! The NGAUS chairman can be contacted at frank.vavala@ngaus.org. 14 | Na tional Guard

Chairman’s Message

Our Victory<br /> <br /> THE CORK REMAINS in my champagne bottle as I write this month’s message to our membership, but that’s only because I’m waiting for the president to sign the fiscal 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).<br /> <br /> When he does, I’ll pop that cork and join all of you in toasting good news for the National Guard, NGAUS and the country.<br /> <br /> Of course, you all know what I’m talking about. The NDAA passed last month by both chambers of Congress will put the chief of the National Guard Bureau on the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). This is the biggest legislative victory for the Guard since the Dick Act early last century modernized the force.<br /> <br /> Almost certainly, President Barack Obama will have signed the bill by the time you read these words early in the new year.<br /> <br /> So, I congratulate all of you for this victory. It validates what we said at our annual conference last year in Milwaukee about how our influence is local and stems from relationships that we have developed over many years with our congressional delegations.<br /> <br /> Our true strength is derived from one of the basic pillars on which our country was founded in that “we the people” determine strategic military direction through our elected officials.<br /> <br /> My fellow adjutants general were inspiring in this eff ort, capitalizing on their time-honored relationship networks to influence and cajole as only insiders can. The hometown force with the global reach manifested itself.<br /> <br /> You members of NGAUS were instrumental in this victory. When you were asked to contact your representatives and urge them to support this eff ort, you did. And they listened to you.<br /> <br /> My hat is off to all of you. <br /> <br /> And doesn’t this victory, too, validate your membership in NGAUS? Your legislative team at the NGAUS headquarters in Washington, D.C., wore out a lot of shoe leather tramping up to Capitol Hill and visiting office after office to explain face-toface how having the chief of Guard bureau on the JCS would help the country.<br /> <br /> If you ever wonder what NGAUS has done for you lately, remember this moment. Even the opposition of the four service chiefs, the current chairman and vice chairman of the JCS and powerful senators couldn’t derail this achievement.<br /> <br /> I don’t want you to be misled, however. We will not see significant change anytime soon. But please understand that issues like homeland security, emergency operations and the welfare of 470,000 Guardsmen will now be addressed at the highest level of decision making in the Pentagon.<br /> <br /> That’s worth lifting a glass of bubbly.<br /> <br /> And let’s not forget as we celebrate this historic success that the real reason members of Congress eagerly put their names on this legislation is because the National Guard has performed so magnificently in the years since 9/11.<br /> <br /> You have traveled multiple times to war zones. You have shed your civilian clothes and donned your uniform when natural forces from fire to flood threatened your neighbors. You have displayed courage and patriotism with watchful eyes on our border to the south and with strong hearts in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan.<br /> <br /> It is because of your eff orts, in fact, that we are able to say today that the war in Iraq has ended. The mission has been accomplished and our military presence in that country is no longer necessary.<br /> <br /> So, as we celebrate this legislative victory with a toast, we also should take a moment to remember our colleagues and friends— our fellow Guardsmen—who fell in battle and are not able to enjoy this day with us.<br /> <br /> It is our solemn duty to never forget their sacrifice and to remember that they served willingly and with full understanding of the possible consequences.<br /> <br /> It is for that reason, and many others, that I’m proud to be a Guardsman!<br /> <br /> The NGAUS chairman can be contacted at frank.vavala@ngaus.org.

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