Friday, December 12, 2008

Northwest military leaders meet with incoming NORTHCOM deputy chief

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The former chief of the National Guard paid a visit to the Oregon Air Guard, Dec. 10-12.

Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, former chief of the National Guard Bureau, and incoming Deputy Commander for United States Northern Command, met with five states' adjutants general at the Portland Air National Guard Base in Portland, Ore., Dec. 11.

He arrived in the region a day earlier, touring facilities and meeting with leaders at the 173rd Fighter Wing at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Ore.

Lt. Gen. Blum's trip to the northwest was a chance for a handful of states to showcase and discuss emergency response capabilities of the states within the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Region 10, said Col. Donald Bond, Chief of Staff (Army) for the Oregon National Guard.

"This opportunity to have the adjutants general collectively meet with General Blum and to discuss the northwest region's abilities will significantly improve the partnership of these states," he said.

FEMA Region 10 includes the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska. Also attending the meeting was Maj. Gen. John Walsh, the adjutant general of Montana.

The meeting was spearheaded by Oregon's Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, in order to give Lt. Gen. Blum a better understanding of the emergency response capabilities of the states within the northwest region, Col. Bond said.

"And as USNORTHCOM moves forward with (emergency) exercises, hopefully they can look upon this region as a place to conduct these (events)," Col. Bond continued.

According to Col. John Kent, 142nd Fighter Wing Commander, the visit was also a chance to brief Lt. Gen. Blum on the proposal to bring the F-22 Raptor to the northwest region as part of the "Five Corners" initiative.

"It was a great opportunity to have him here," Col. Kent said. "We want to show him what the state of Oregon offers, and in particular, how the 142nd FW supports NORAD and USNORTHCOM, and our air sovereignty support mission here."

Lt. Gen. Blum saw first-hand how the Oregon Air Guard employs F-15 Eagle fighter jets to protect skies over the northwest when he visited the Air Sovereignty Alert Facilities at the Portland Air Base. There, he met with crew chiefs, pilots, and 123rd Fighter Squadron Commander, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Hwang.

"I think Lt. Gen. Blum got a real good look at how we cover all the vital areas in the northwest," Lt. Col. Hwang said. "His itinerary was pretty well packed, so we were honored to have him come out and visit us."

And if he does have a chance to come back to Oregon, he can count on a ride in one of our F-15's, said Col. Kent.

"I plan to put him in the back of an F-15, and show him how it's done in the Air Force," Col. Kent said.

Lt. Gen. Blum's previous assignment was Chief of National Guard Bureau in Arlington, Va., where he was responsible for developing and coordinating policies and programs affecting more than a half-million Air and Army National Guard personnel. He will be the first National Guard officer to serve in the role as Deputy Commander of USNORTHCOM.

Story by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy, Oregon National Guard Public Affairs. Photos by Tech. Sgt. Greg Neulieb and Staff Sgt. John Hughel of the 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office and Capt. Richard Ybarra of the 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.

No comments: