Thursday, April 2, 2009

National Guard, Oregon's Guardmembers face an historic future

Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees,
The Adjutant General, Oregon National Guard

We are in an historic time not only for the Oregon National Guard but the National Guard in its entirety.

While the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team is conducting pre-mobilization training for its upcoming Iraq deployment, we have more than 350 Oregon National Guard members deployed across the world in support of global military operations.

The National Guard itself now has the first four-star chief, Gen. Craig R. McKinley, as well a newly appointed Director of the Air National Guard, Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt III. A new Director of the Army National Guard will soon be announced.

Historic changes have already begun. We have received federal stimulus dollars from the National Guard Bureau in order to fund state projects. Additional projects were made possible through legislation granting approximately $4.5 million in state stimulus funds that will assist in updating our armories and alleviate maintenance backlogs at facilities throughout the state.

These projects not only help set the Guard up for the future but also help sustain and create new jobs within our communities. These projects also include elements helping to reduce overall energy consumption into the future.

The 173rd Fighter Wing at Kingsley Field is preparing to temporarily move its flying operations hundreds of miles away while construction crews refurbish the Klamath Falls Airport runway. A federal stimulus package of $4 million will totally renovate the emergency barrier arrest system. This refurbishment will allow Kingsley Field to train the world’s best fighter pilots for decades to come.

We continue to pursue the stationing of F-22s to protect what is called the “Five Corners” of the United States. F-22 Raptors would be at five bases in the following states: Massachusetts, Florida, Louisiana, California, and here in Oregon. I believe fielding the best airframe for our Air Sovereignty Mission is absolutely the best way for the Oregon National Guard to continue in its successful protection of our nation.

The Oregon Military Department has received national recognition in our environmental branch for the second year in a row. The Army National Guard Environmental Security Award was presented by Mr. Addison D. Davis IV, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Environment, Safety and Occupational Health, in March.

The Oregon Military Department continues to demonstrate good stewardship with what we are provided. I am proud of what our environmental branch has been able to achieve and expect continued success.

Finally, April is Earthquake Tsunami Preparedness Month. The Office of Emergency Management continues to work alongside other civilian and government agencies to ensure the Oregon Military Department is prepared in the event of an earthquake or tsunami. Oregon sustained damage from two moderate earthquake events in 1993 and a distant tsunami from Alaska in 1964. There will be several events throughout the state to include training to better prepare communities in the event of an actual disaster.

This is truly an amazing time in our history. As we prepare to send an additional 2,600 soldiers on deployment, I want to assure Oregonians that the Oregon Military Department and the Oregon National Guard will continue to serve the people of Oregon and the United States here at home.

There is no better time for us to demonstrate the overall effectiveness of our Guard. Regardless of difficulty we must accomplish both state and federal missions simultaneously.

We are and will be: Always Ready! Always There!

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