Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Scammers are using fake AKO address to hoodwink soldiers' families

Be careful!

A scam using a fake AKO site is targeting families of deployed soldiers.

The families receive emails from a fake AKO site asking the family member to login. Once in the site, all the information from their computer is downloaded into a server.

An example of emails from the fake site read with the last name first, rather than the other way around.

Be wary of any email address that looks suspicious. Just because it has in the address, doesn't necessarily mean it is from a legitimate source.

Posted by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
Oregon National Guard Social Media Manager

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Migration deadline for Oregon National Guard Facebook page set for Nov. 1

The Oregon National Guard plans to move their emphasis from their current Facebook page to their fan page by November 1.

Those of you who know our Facebook page, Owen Summers OregonGuard, have become familiar with our great stories, photos, and videos pertinent to Oregon's citizen-soldiers, citizen-airmen, their families, friends, and employers.

In order to align ourselves with Facebook guidelines, as well as to build a strong social networking foundation, we will be migrating all of our content (and friends) from the Owen Summers Oregon Guard Facebook page over to the Oregon National Guard - Oregon Military Department Facebook Fan page.

The reasons for this move are twofold: Personal pages are limited to only 5,000 freinds, whereas fan pages can have an unlimited number of fans. If every airman and soldier in the Oregon National Guard were to become our freind on Facebook, our friends list would top 8,000! To say nothing of all their friends and supporters!

Now you and I both know that not everyone in the Oregon National Guard is on Facebook, and everyone who is, may not necessarily want to be our friend *sniff-sniff*. But we all know social networking is here to stay, so this move makes sense for our future.

The other reason is that Facebook does not allow organizations to have personal pages. While Owen Summers is (was) a real person--the "father" of the Oregon National Guard--in order to adhere to their guidelines, and set good examples for the rest of the Facebook universe, we have decided to do the "right" thing.

If you are a friend of our Facebook page, we not only thank you for being our friend and following our posts, but we highly encourage you to join our fan page before November 1st, located here. While the Owen Summers page will be on Facebook until the end of the year to provide for transition, no more posts or stories will be made there.

Posted by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
Oregon National Guard Public Affairs

Monday, September 28, 2009

Oregon airmen get ready: You may be tapped for domestic emergency response missions

ARLINGTON, Va. (9/25/09) -- The commander of the Oregon Air National Guard said he is committed to preparing his airmen for future domestic missions after a week-long conference participants called “hugely successful.”

Oregon Air National Guard Brig. Gen. Bruce W. Prunk said he hopes to bring a more robust domestic operations mission to his state as a result of data coming out of the Domestic Operations Essential-10 Requirements (DOERs) conference held in Arlington, Va., Sept. 21-25.

The event brought together Air Guard leaders from across the country to discuss organizational requirements in order to fulfill future domestic operations missions.

“I will stay committed to keeping our folks engaged, and try to get us the best training and equipment that we can to support the domestic operations mission,” Prunk said.

Prunk, who is vice chairman of the Strategic Planning System’s western region, said input from all 54 states and territories was instrumental in formulating the Air Guard’s future plan for domestic emergencies and helped to identify shortfalls in equipment and gaps in mission capability.

The data will be compiled into a book that will be presented to congressional representatives and military leadership to lobby for increased funding, equipment, and training for the Air National Guard.

“We hope to use this information going forward when we build budgets or talk to the Senate or the House on what we need in the Oregon Air Guard, so (we can) support civilian authorities during an emergency,” Prunk said.

The DOERs book will mimic the highly successful Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Weapons and Tactics Conference or WEPTAC held each October in Tucson, Ariz.

Prunk said that conference yields important guidelines for upgrades to current Air Force weapons systems like the F-15, F-16, and C-130. “We’re trying to go that same route to build future missions, upgrades and requirements for the domestic operations support,” he said.

Conference attendees divided the DOERs requirements into several key areas. Requirements in command and control, engineering, medical, personnel, communications, transportation, security and logistics support were scrutinized for existing shortcomings and gaps, which were addressed during a number of sessions throughout the week.

One area of concern for Oregon is the heavy reliance on the Oregon Army National Guard for airlift capability. With the increasing operations tempo for Oregon Army National Guard assets like the CH-47 Chinook and C-23 Sherpa aircraft, the Oregon Air Guard lacks the ability to move large amounts of cargo and equipment on its own, Prunk said.

“We don’t have a lot of airlift capability available in the Air Guard that would be able to help or supplement the Army during emergencies,” he said.

Prunk’s team also identified interoperability of communications across Oregon. Due to the size of the state, and geographical challenges, such as the mountain ranges and the high desert, troops may have trouble communicating over vast distances.

Prunk cited the ORARNG’s existing Joint Information Site Communications Capability, and suggested another JISCC system as a solution to this problem.

“We definitely have a need for a second system,” Prunk said.

A third area of concern is the ability to move heavy equipment around at either of the two fighter wings in Oregon. Prunk said after the Air Force Reserve closed the 939th Air Refueling Squadron at the Portland Air Guard Base, the wing lost the ability to process large cargo aircraft like the C-5, C-17 and C-130.

Having that ground equipment is important should a regional disaster occur, “We have great ramp space and great logistics people,” Prunk said. “(But) we just don’t have the equipment to support that sort of large-scale operation.”

Prunk said the Oregon Air Guard does have the skills and ability to support the Air Force’s newest missions, cyber warfare. But Oregon’s citizen-airmen still need adequate training and equipment in order to fulfill this mission effectively, he said. He hopes results from the DOERs conference will help convince military and government leadership to locate one of 20 proposed FEMA cyber threat response teams in Oregon.

“I think we not only have the talent, but the ability to recruit from the cyber expertise in the area, so I’m absolutely convinced we’d be able to do a very good job,” Prunk said. “I think it would make a great future mission for Oregon,”

Any plan for the Oregon Air Guard will be implemented in concert with ORARNG leadership, and Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, the adjutant general of the Oregon National Guard, with oversight from Oregon’s governor, Prunk said.

The western region includes FEMA Region 9 and 10, which encompasses the states of Washington, Idaho, Oregon, California, Arizona, Alaska, Hawaii, and the territory of Guam. It covers eight time zones and has unique natural challenges, such as earthquakes, fires, tsunamis, and volcanoes, Prunk added.

Other regions include Central, Midwest, Atlantic and the Northeast Region which includes the territories of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Some of the challenges in those regions range from floods and fires to ice storms and hurricanes.

Other Oregon Air Guard leaders who participated in the conference were Col. Rick Wedan, from Joint Forces Headquarters, and Maj. Marty Plotner, Oregon’s military liaison to civilian emergency response agencies.

Some of the key areas of concern expressed for Oregon Air Guard at DOERs conference:
- Need for organic airlift capability in the Oregon Air Guard in order to suppliment ORARNG cargo lift capabilities.
- Need for communications interoperability within the Oregon Air Guard.
- Lobby for second Joint Information Site Communications Capability (JISCC) in Oregon.
- Capability for airborne search and rescue with first-responder communications in each state.
- Adequate equipment to process heavy cargo at the two fighter wings in response to natural disasters or man-made incidents.
- Designated FEMA cyber-response team in Oregon.

Posted by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
National Guard Bureau Public Affairs

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Air Guard planners host first domestic ops conference

Left: Maj. Gen. Donald Fick, the acting director of the Joint Staff for the National Guard Bureau, discusses the importance of homeland defense at the Domestic Operations Essential Requirements Conference in Washington Sept. 21, 2009. “Homeland defense is our number one priority,” he said.

On Sept. 21, Air National Guard planners kicked off what they hope will become an annual conference for drafting a domestic operations strategy.

“We’re leading the way to help build a formal document for the Air Force,” said Air Force Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt III, the director of the Air National Guard.

The goal of the Domestic Operations Essential Requirements (DOERs) conference is to explore equipment and personnel needs for domestic operations, such as response to natural and manmade disasters and weapons of mass destruction incidents.

Wyatt referenced a speech given by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz at the recent National Guard Association of the United States conference. He called for input from the Air National Guard to help shape the future of the Air Force’s personnel and resource requirements.

“We will use your work here to push for modernization and equipment,” Wyatt said.
The Army National Guard has valuable experience in many of the areas covered at the conference, specifically the homeland defense mission, and Wyatt said he hopes to involve Army Guard leaders in future conferences.

“We hope to lead DoD as we consider opportunities with other components,” Wyatt said.
Many programs, including the civil support team mission, disaster preparedness and response and the new Joint Cargo Aircraft mission, have blurred the lines between the Air and Army Guard.

Attendees also discussed the proportional distribution of assets and resources to the Air and Army Guard from the active components.

“(Our) guidance must be transparent,” said Air Force Brig. Gen. Gary Magonigle, executive chairman for the ANG’s Strategic Planning System and assistant adjutant general for the Washington Guard. “No backroom deals.”

He added that guidance that came out of the 2008 Roadmap Guidance Summit, and which organizers hope will come out of the DOERs conference, is nothing without implementation.
“The states need to implement this guidance,” Magonigle said. “The process is guided by the results from this conference.”

Several collaborative tools, including an online “future missions” database, are being made available to planners in an effort to gather input and help shape the Strategic Planning System.
“This program is field-driven,” he said.
(For more information on the SPS program, visit the Air National Guard's website: Look for the "SPS Newsletter" link under the Media tab).

Air Force Maj. Gen. Donald Fick, the acting director of the Joint Staff at the National Guard Bureau, said the National Guard was, in the past, located at the “end of the food chain.”

“But now we get to plan a program for homeland defense, which is our number one priority,” he said.

Fick said conferences like DOERs will formulate valuable plans for global force management and issues related to force employment.

“Right now, we’re trying to respond to five different leaders,” he said. “This conference is great, because we’ll have a combination of what we feel we need to do and what others require us to do.”

Christine Wormuth, DoD’s principal deputy undersecretary for Homeland Defense, said one of the biggest challenges facing military leaders today is the shift away from the sanctuary of the homeland.

The “homeland sanctuary” theory assumes anything inside the borders of the United States is thought to be impervious to attack by adversaries.

She cited the recent arrest of individuals in Colorado and New York with ties to terrorist groups and alleged plans to use WMDs to launch attacks within the United States as a sign that the old ways of thinking must evolve.

“The fact that our homeland is no longer a sanctuary is significant,” Wormuth said.
Developing a holistic approach for homeland security involves state partners, nongovernment agencies and the National Guard.

“We cannot operate in departmental stovepipes anymore,” she said. “The policy makers are now working together. This is a step in the right direction.”

Check back here Friday for updates and outbriefs from the last day of the conference.

Posted by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
National Guard Bureau Public Affairs

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Remembering Bruno + 1 year

This weekend, Sept. 20, marks one year that we learned of the death of one of our own.

Oregon Army National Guard Capt. Bruno De Solenni, and two interpreters were killed in an IED blast a year ago this weekend. Read that complete story from the Oregonian, here, and another story about him here.

A thanks goes to Mike Francis for posting a tribute to Capt. De Solenni in his Oregon At War blog. You can also read posts on his tribute site,

Posted by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
National Guard Bureau Public Affairs

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sept. 18: National POW/MIA Remembrance Day

National POW-MIA Remembrance Day is celebrated the third Friday of September in honor of all Prisoners of War (POWs) and soldiers who are considered Missing in Action (MIA).

Posted by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
National Guard Bureau Public Affairs

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Oregon National Guard Funeral Honors team takes second in national competition

While the Oregon National Guard Funeral Honors team didn't take the national championship this year, participants came away with a renewed sense of accomplishment and camaraderie, says team coordinator, Mark Brady.

"This competition brings the best honor guard units in the nation together," says Mark Brady, team coordinator. "It spurs teams to be better than they were."

But he adds, the people who really benefit from competitions are not really the soldiers.

"The true beneficiaries of this excellence is the family members, and the retirees and veterans themselves," Brady said.

"I am very proud of this Oregon team and as usual have presented themselves with professionalism and pride," he added.

The competition wrapped up with a banquet for all the participants on the evening of Sept. 17. The top three winners were; Minnesota National Guard (first place), Oregon National Guard (second place), and Idaho National Guard (third place).

Here are some pictures from the final day of the event, held at Fort Myer in Washington, D.C.

Posted by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
National Guard Bureau Public Affairs Office

Oregon Funeral Honors Team goes for three in a row

The Oregon National Guard Funeral Honors Team runs through a grave-side practice during the national competition at Fort Myer in Washington D.C. The competition, which involves National Guard teams from across the country, concludes today, with the winners being announced at the banquet this evening.

WASHINGTON D.C.--The Oregon National Guard Funeral Honors Team has won the national competition for two years running, since the event began in 2007.

This year, they hope to make it three in a row, says the State Military Honors Coordinator for Oregon, Mark Brady.

“This is an excellent opportunity to showcase how well the Military Honors program has trained its soldiers nation-wide and to the level of service that our country’s veterans and retirees deserve,” Brady said.

According to Brady, Oregon’s state program began in 2004. By the following year, the team had conducted 415 honors for veterans or retirees. By 2006, that number had grown to 2,350 events, and in 2008, 3,400 veterans received honors from the Oregon team.

As veterans continue to age into their 70s, 80s and 90s, Brady expects that number to increase in 2009.

“I anticipate that we will provide honors for over 3,500 this year,” Brady said.

While the program boosts the skills of Oregon’s honors team, the group’s training non-commissioned officer thinks all soldiers benefit from participating in their respective states’ programs.

“I believe that this competition increases the proficiency of the program overall,” said Sgt. Timothy Tompkins, Oregon Honors Team Training NCO.

But there’s a lot of planning and practice before they even think about the competition, adds Brady.

Each of the seven regions submit videos to the National Guard Bureau for evaluation and consideration. From that group, the best team from each region is invited to attend the national-level competition in Washington D.C.

Each team competes in several categories, including physical fitness tests, in-ranks inspections—which last over two hours, and an Honorable Transfer test, which involves moving a casket from an aircraft to a vehicle, and vice-versa.

“This is such an exceptional program, and the soldiers and NCOs are of the highest caliber that I have had the opportunity to work with,” Brady said.

Several different inspections ranging from three-man urn sequences to seven-man full-honors, a written test on military honors, and individual “board” interviews with a general officer are also conducted.

But competitions aside, the soldiers on the team keep their perspective—to honor their fallen comrades and veterans who served their nation.

“The dignity and professionalism of these soldiers truly honor the fallen soldier or veteran,” Brady adds.

This year’s competition is held September 13-17, in Washington, D.C., with the winners announced at a banquet Thursday night.
Story by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
National Guard Bureau Public Affairs Office

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

One of Oregon's own on front lines of policy-making for National Guard members

In all my excitement, I forgot to post a photo of one of our own Oregon Air Guard leaders, Maj. Gen. Daniel B. O'Hollaren.

As a NGAUS board member, "Oho" has the ability to bring our concerns directly to Congress and those who shape policy for the National Guard--both Army and Air.

Glad to have you out there looking out for our interests sir!

Posted via Flickr by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,

Social Media Manager, Oregon National Guard, currently with NGB-Public Affairs in Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Defense Department to start H1N1 flu vaccinations

All military personnel will be vaccinated against the H1N1 flu virus, and the vaccine will be available to all military family members who want it, a Defense Department health affairs official said today.

The H1N1 vaccination program will begin in early October, said Army Lt. Col. (Dr.) Wayne Hachey, director of preventive medicine for Defense Department health affairs.

The vaccine, which has been licensed by the Food and Drug Administration, will be mandatory for uniformed personnel, the colonel said. "What we want to do is target those people who are at highest risk for transmission," he said.

Health-care workers, deploying troops, those serving on ships and submarines, and new accessions are at the top of the list. "Any place where we take a lot of people, squash them all together and get them nice and close and put them under stressful conditions will get the vaccine first," he said.

The department will use the usual seasonal flu vaccine distribution chain for the H1N1, Hachey said, noting that while the mass H1N1 vaccinations are new to the general population, the process for vaccinating against seasonal flu is old hat for the Defense Department.

"We've been doing this for decades," the colonel said. "The system is tried and true."

The department initially will receive 1 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine, and another 1.7 million doses later in October.

Officials don't know yet whether people will need one dose or two, Hachey said. "The assumption right now is that people will need two doses, 21 days apart," he said. "That may change."

FDA officials still are studying H1N1 and the vaccine, and the results should be known by the end of the month. Seasonal flu vaccine already is available, and the Defense Department will begin giving those shots shortly, Hachey said.

"That has been our message to immunizers: to try and get as many people as they can immunized against the seasonal flu early," he said.

Story by Jim Garamone,
American News Service

Chiarelli: Soldier wellness, mental health a top priority for active duty, Army Guard and Reserves

Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli addresses citizen-soldiers and citizen-airmen from across 54 states and territories at the 131st Annual National Guard Association of the United States conference in Nashville, TN, Sept. 13, 2009. Chiarelli emphasized caring for soldiers and their families’ mental well-being as part of the Army’s strategy to care for its forces.

With soldier suicides reaching what Army brass are calling ‘alarming numbers,’ military leaders are placing a renewed emphasis on the mental well-being among their ranks, says the Army’s second-in-command.

“We have a force that is much more resilient than I ever thought it was going to be, but it is much more stressed,” said Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, Army Vice Chief of Staff as he spoke to National Guard delegates from across the country at the National Guard Association of the United States conference in Nashville, TN on Sept. 13.

“In recent years, we’ve seen an increase in the number of soldiers both active and reserve components struggling with depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder,” Chiarelli said.

Indeed, the Department of the Army has confirmed 111 soldier suicides as of early September 2009, and is on track to exceed 2008 statistics. Additionally, there have been 54 confirmed suicides in the Army National Guard and Army Reserves.

He added that there has also been an increase in violence and alcohol and substance abuse, and an increase in destructive or reckless behaviors.

“The challenge facing the Army today is the overall well-being of the force,” Chiarelli said. “And that force includes the families.”

The Army’s aim is to increase soldiers’ overall resiliency, and to make them aware that there are programs which can provide them with the most benefit.

“In the past the Army’s approach was largely reactive—to treat or discipline soldiers who violated Army standards. That has changed,” Chiarelli said.

The Army will now assess and intervene early in the process to identify and mitigate issues before they become significant concerns, he said. Chiarelli also highlighted an ongoing collaboration between the Department of the Army and the National Institute of Mental Health, which was struck in October 2008.

“We realize we must become proactive if we want to be successful in the challenging environment we find ourselves in today,” he added. Another way to solve some of the pressures facing soldiers is to increase the amount of time between deployments.

Chiarelli cited an example of one Army unit that has a 3 percent medical non-deployment rate, versus other units’ 12-15 percent rate. When he asked his advisors what made that particular unit so successful, they said the unit had increased their time at home station to 26 months, versus the average time of 16 months at home station for most other units.

“It doesn’t take a nuclear scientist to figure out that the key to this problem is to expand the time our soldiers spend at home,” Chiarelli said.

Additionally, the Army plans to add 417 behavioral health specialists to their rolls in order to mitigate mental health issues associated with increasing deployments and a growing operations tempo. The introduction of online mental health diagnostic and treatment tools for soldiers and their families is another key to helping soldiers cope with the demands being placed upon them, he said.

“We have a responsibility to provide the same level of health care to National Guard soldiers that we provide to the active duty,” Chiarelli said.

In addition to beefing up the Army’s mental wellness program, the general hopes to bring Tricare coverage for soldiers in the National Guard and Reserves more in line with their active duty counterparts.

According to Chiarelli, over 700,000 National Guard and Reserve soldiers have been called to active duty since 2001.

“It really is one team, one fight,” he said. “But unfortunately I think the challenges we are facing as a force are going to get harder before they get easier as we continue to adjust to this new strategic environment.”

He highlighted the effort in Afghanistan, where an emphasis on agribusiness is helping to redirect the Afghan focus toward legitimate crops which benefit the entire population instead of insurgent groups.

The effort of National Guard members who are helping redevelop the country’s essential farming practices lost to years of conflict, is a true success story, Chiarelli said.

“Today National Guardsmen from agriculture states in middle America are deploying to Afghanistan to advise the Afghan people on modern farming techniques and business practices,” he said.

He cited innovative irrigation techniques and grain storage facilities to livestock management and “green” power utilizing solar technology as some of the goals that will bring the people of Afghanistan toward independence and self-assurance.

“We’re helping Afghanistan rebuild their economy, and this is absolutely critical to our success there,” Chiarelli said. “These farmer-soldiers represent the strategic tip of the spear.”

But this critical mission is not funded in the National Guard by design, the general warned. Rather, these missions are conducted and funded by National Guard teams “out of hide” due to new requirements

“This new requirement has undoubtedly contributed to the growing strain on our forces,” he said.

“No doubt, there are tough days ahead and it’ll require a total team effort by our active duty and Reserve and National Guard components to make it happen,” he added.

Chiarelli is the 32nd Vice Chief of Staff for the United States Army—a post he has held since Aug. 4, 2008. He has previously served as the Senior Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense.

Posted by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
National Guard Bureau Public Affairs Office

Monday, September 14, 2009

Air Guard director asks for best and brightest to help shape future of Air National Guard

Left: Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt, Director of the Air National Guard.

Taking care of airmen and utilizing the talents and knowledge base within the ranks was the common theme during the specific Air National Guard session at the National Guard Association of the United States conference in Nashville, TN, Sept. 13.

“We need to focus on developing our future leadership,” said Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt, Director of the Air National Guard.

Wyatt spoke to about 400 Air National Guard delegates from 54 states and territories during the Air-specific breakout session on the third day of the conference.

He said the Air National Guard needs to develop characteristics in airmen so they can attain top positions within the organization.

He called for leaders to help move both themselves and those in their charge from technical positions through tactical, and eventually into strategic areas.

“Get people outside their comfort zone,” Wyatt said. “There are challenges out there that excite our young people, and it’s up to you and me to give them the opportunity to excel.”

Wyatt also touched upon ongoing changes in force structure, including proposed mission requirements for several units throughout the Air Guard based on a concurrent and proportional roll out plan for fifth-generation aircraft by the Air Force.

“The Air National Guard will likely have less fighter wings,” he cautioned. “But there are opportunities out there for us. This is a great time for the Air National Guard.”

Wyatt called for the states’ adjutants general to work closely with Air Guard leadership to develop the Strategic Planning System, which will outline the future role of units throughout the Air National Guard. The near-term target includes fighter and tanker missions, but the plan will also outline requirements for cyber warfare and joint missions.

“Then we’re going to hand it to the Chief of the Air Force, and we’re going to fight like hell to get it,” Wyatt said as the room broke out in applause.

He implored units throughout the Air Guard to “send me your best and your brightest,” adding that the Air National Guard is at a point where “we need to maximize our efficiencies.”

“If we don’t maximize our resources, then those resources will be taken from us,” Wyatt said.

“And if we don’t do this smartly, then someone else will do it for us—perhaps ‘un-smartly’,” he added.

Posted by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
National Guard Bureau Public Affairs Office

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Muncy: Air Guardsmen need to tell the world ‘who we are’

Left: Air National Guard Command Chief Master Sgt. Christopher Muncy.

The Air National Guard’s highest ranking enlisted person emphasized the contributions of National Guardsmen in shaping the foundation of the United States during his presentation at the National Guard Association of the United States conference in Nashville, Sept. 13.

Command Chief Master Sgt. Christopher Muncy, who was appointed as the Command Chief of the Air National Guard in late February 2009, said first and foremost, airmen have a responsibility to the people of the United States.

“When you wear those ABUs, and you cover up the ‘Air Force’, what remains is what we raised our hand and swore to,” Muncy said.

He encouraged leadership to get to know those in their enlisted ranks who display the potential for leadership.

“Get to know your airmen,” he said. “So we can shape them as future officers and leaders.”

Muncy said as budgets throughout the Air Force continue to shrink, educating the total force about the importance of the Air Guard’s role continues to shrink proportionately.

As one example, he cited the Air Guard-specific instruction at the Air Force Senior NCO Academy. During the 18-week instruction, only one hour is devoted to telling the Air National Guard story. The Air Force recently proposed cutting the hour-long session out of their NCOA completely, he said.

“We get one hour to tell our story,” Muncy said. “And they want to take that away too.”

He believes this de-emphasis on the importance of Air Guard missions continue to perpetuate misconceptions about the Air National Guard.

"I talk to people in the Air Force who still think Air Guardsmen buy their uniforms from military surplus stores,” he joked.

"In 2009, with your Air Guardsmen busting their buns throughout the world, I’m going to hammer the Air Force so they know who we are," he said. We don’t need to blend, we need to tell them who the Air National Guard is."

Muncy believes there is another misperception that exists inside and outside the Air Guard in which people think airmen join the organization solely because of the flying missions. He said this couldn’t be further from the truth.

"If you think the only reason your airmen raise their right hand and swear to defend the nation and the constitution because of those 'fast movers' on the flightline, then you’ve lost it," he said.

"They come to serve. Your airmen are here to serve your state and nation," he said.

Muncy also emphasized the Hometown Hero Salute program, which is mirrored after the Army National Guard, and has been endorsed by Air National Guard leadership.

"If you have to ask why we highlight our airmen and their families, and all their accomplishments, then you missed the bus," he said. "We have got to take care of our folks."

He underscored the number of suicides during the 2009 calendar year. Since January, there have been 12 documented suicides throughout the Air National Guard.

“That is twelve too many," he said.

“Talk to your airmen,” Muncy continued. “They’re the single most important thing you have.”

Keeping with the times, Muncy encouraged getting enlisted leadership involved in innovative ways to communicate with their younger airmen. He suggested text messaging as a way to reach out to them.

“Get your first sergeants into texting,” he said. “Your young airmen won’t answer the phone when you call them, but they will answer a text message.”

Some other important updates for airmen from Muncy:

- Updated fitness testing requirements have been posted to the Air Force Portal. They include; more incremental run time requirements, waist measurements more realistic with normal body types, consistent minimum requirements established in all categories.

- The ANG has a seat in the discussion for new Airman’s Battle Uniform: Lighter-weight ABU top proposed, distribution of ABUs throughout ANG a top priority, mix-and-match of older Gortex jacket okayed from leadership pending production and distribution of ABU Gortex.

- Heritage Jacket design is currently on hold.

- Enlisted Force Structure Booklet distributed. Covers duties and responsibilities, and Air Force Instruction. The booklet will be highlighted at the Enlisted Leadership Symposium.

Muncy will also speak at the Enlisted Leadership Symposium in Dallas, Texas, scheduled for Nov. 2-6.

Posted by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
National Guard Bureau Public Affairs

Saturday, September 12, 2009

National Guard four-star general addresses NGAUS conference

Originally uploaded by jim.greenhill
Gen. Craig R. McKinley, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, addresses the 131st National Guard Association of the United States General Conference in Nashville, Tenn., on Sept. 11, 2009. "The 21st century is going to be a tough one but the National Guard will be there, ready and resilient," McKinley said.

Air Force Chief calls for unity, collaboration between Guard, Active Duty

U.S. Air Force Joint Chief Gen. Norton A. Schwartz addresses National Guard delegates from 54 states and territories during the National Guard Association of the United States conference in Nashville, TN, Sept. 12. Schwartz called for collaboration and adaptation as the Air Force moves forward on its future ‘total force’ strategic plan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy, National Guard Bureau Public Affairs)

Citing evolving missions and shrinking budgets, the Joint Chief of the Air Force called for the Air National Guard and active duty forces to work closer together in a spirit of collaboration, but called for flexibility and an ability to adapt.

“The skill-set of National Guard members is critical to sustaining worldwide partnerships,” said U.S. Air Force Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, during his speech at the 131st annual National Guard Association of the United States in Nasville, TN, Sept. 12.

“We stand to succeed across all areas of our total force mission,” Schwartz said. “But we face numerous challenges.”

Schwartz said the total Air Force structure is evolving, and with it, so too are the demands being placed upon the force by the U.S. government.

“We need to adapt to this change,” he said.

Schwartz said the Air Force’s most pressing priority is the acquisition of new tanker aircraft. The general echoed Air Force Secretary Mike Donley’s speech at the NGAUS convention the day before, citing a robust request for proposal, which is due out to contractors later in 2009, with a final contract awarded in late 2010.

“You all have a considerable investment in the new tanker,” Schwartz told the audience who responded with applause.

“The second priority is our fighter aircraft,” he said.

He said it would be a “major mistake as a nation” to spend money on upgrading the existing Air Force inventory, and “prematurely walk away from the F-35.”

“Why would I want to dissipate a limited pool of resources on a 4.5 generation fighter, when I can purchase a fifth generation platform?” Schwartz asked the audience.

While Schwartz believes the F-22 Raptor is “over-spec’d” for the Air Force’s Air Sovereignty Alert mission, he hopes to bring a combination of F-22, F-35, legacy aircraft (including upgraded F-15 and F-16 fighters), and unmanned aircraft, also known as UAVs, to the ASA mission.

Schwartz said that while distribution of any new platform concurrently between the active duty Air Force and Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve units is important, the changing role of the Air Force means not all units will retain their present missions—be they a flying mission or otherwise.

“We must recognize that the total Air Force is evolving,” he said. “We need to adapt, but adaptation also applies to a concurrent and proportional roll-out in terms of F-35 procurement.”

Schwartz said in the future not every fighter unit will retain their flying mission. Units may migrate to an unmanned flying mission, or even a non-flying mission.

“We need to be equally prepared to do those missions too,” he said. “And in those cases, I think together we can kick ass.”

The third priority for the Air Force is its long-range strike capability, Schwartz said. According to the general, the Secretary of Defense terminated the next generation long-range bomber program because he wasn’t convinced the strategy was clearly defined.

“I think our country needs a penetrating air capability,” he said. “We cannot depend exclusively on ‘fire and forget’ ballistic missiles.”

“And as you know,” he continued, citing the B-2 bomber mission at Whiteman AFB in Missouri, “(The Air Force) has a significant partnership in long-range strike capability with the Guard and Reserve.”

The general reminded the group of recent ceremonies commemorating the eighth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, calling them “a sobering reminder of the unfamiliar political and military landscape Americans now faces.”

“Now more than ever, we must be vigilant in our efforts to provide for the common defense of our nation,” Schwartz told the audience.

The 131st annual NGAUS conference concludes on Sept. 13.

Posted by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
National Guard Bureau Public Affairs

Friday, September 11, 2009

Donley highlights Guard members’ contributions, emphasis on ‘total force’ during speech at NGAUS conference

Secretary of the U.S. Air Force, Michael Donley, speaks at the 131st annual National Guard Association of the United States conference, in Nashville, TN, Sept. 11, 2009. Donley told the audience, “Americans live their lives without fear, because of the steadfast commitment and sacrifice of our citizen-soldiers and citizen-airmen.” (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy, National Guard Bureau Public Affairs)

During his opening remarks at the National Guard Association of the United States conference in Nashville, Tennessee today, Secretary of the Air Force, Michael Donley evoked passages of a speech given earlier in the day by President Obama, marking the eighth anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

He quoted the President, saying America’s military “must renew its resolve against those who perpetrated this barbaric attack, and who fight against us still.”

“The work of protecting America is never finished,” Donley added.

Donley said the date of opening ceremony for the 131st NGAUS conference on Sept. 11, 2009 is fitting, given that the National Guard is the original defenders of the homeland, and the first to respond to the 9-11 terrorist attacks.

“You were the first responders to defend America’s skies,” he said. “Americans live their lives without fear, because of the steadfast commitment and sacrifice of our citizen-soldiers and citizen-airmen.”

He thanked the contributions of Guard members and their families for not just their sacrifices but also for balancing their jobs in the National Guard and that of a civilian career.

“It takes a special human being to be able to do this,” Donley said.

“We could not do our work without you,” he continued. “We have shared many successes, and we have spilled blood together.”

Donley also said the success of the nation’s military rests on keeping up with an uncertain enemy and an evolving conflict.

“Our success tomorrow depends on versatility—and this is exemplified by the National Guard,” he said.

During a brief question and answer period, Donley addressed three key issues; recapitalization of the nation’s aging fighter jets, the upcoming request for proposals from contractors who will build the next generation Air Force tanker aircraft, and the emphasis by the Department of Defense on cyber warfare—which is typically an Air Force role.

He said the DoD will focus on production of 1,763 F-35 fighter jets, for both the U.S. Air Force and nine other countries throughout the world. Donley said the worldwide distribution of the fifth-generation fighter will mimic that of the F-16 Falcon.

Donley also said the Air Force and the Department of Defense have put together a strong request for proposal, which they will submit to aircraft manufacturers sometime in late 2009.

“We are going to be fair, and we are going forward with this. Watch this space closely,” he told the audience.

On the Air Force’s cyber-warfare program, Donley said there may be a ‘pause’ in the forward progression to launch a fully-operational division within the Air Force, but the DoD understands the importance of an emphasis on this battle space.

However, members of the National Guard—both Army and Air Force, with their real-world knowledge and experience—are integral to this fight, he said.

Donley told the audience he plans to discuss details of these topics and more, at the Air Force Association’s annual conference, scheduled for October 14-16 in Washington, D.C.

The 131st annual NGAUS conference concludes on Sept. 13.

Posted by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
National Guard Bureau Public Affairs

Friday, September 4, 2009

Spc. Jeremy Pierce: a visit with a true Oregon hero

Today I visited with Oregon Army National Guard member, Spc. Jeremy Pierce at Walter-Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C.

The visit came about by chance. As you may recall in a previous blog post, and on our Facebook page, Michael Ring, owner of Bridge City Comics in Portland, Ore., has donated thousands of comic books to our fellow Oregonians deployed overseas.

I thought it was a good idea to also send a bunch of comic books to Jeremy, who is recuperating at Walter Reed, following an IED attack on his convoy in mid August. But since I recently learned I would be on a 30-day assignment at the National Guard Bureau here in D.C., I suggested to Michael that I personally deliver the comic books to Jeremy. He thought it was a great idea.

So I set out to Walter Reed this morning, and brought along Maj. Steve Arntt and Maj. Rick Crowther--two fellow Oregon Army National Guard members who are on extended tours at NGB.

No cameras. No fanfare. No media in tow. Just a few Oregonians visiting another Oregonian who could use some company.

Jeremy was very happy to see us. Following introductions, I handed him the packet of comic books and told him the story behind the donation.

"I'll have to call him and personally thank him," Jeremy said of Mr. Ring.

I am happy to say that in spite of his wounds, Jeremy is upbeat, and retains a very positive mental attitude. He possesses a humble nature, and an appreciation for his life, friends, and the organization to which he has fully devoted himself.

His sense of humor is also serving him very well.

A nurse came into the room to change out one of the tubes that supplies him with pain medicine. She asked him if he had any more chocolates stashed in the snack drawer he had next to his bed.

"No," he said. "Every time I open that bag, the chocolate somehow disappears," the young specialist said, flashing us a mischievous smile.

His physical therapist then showed up, asking if he would like to go downstairs and do a workout.

"Nah," he told her. "I'm supposed to get a bath soon."

He then stopped her. "But if I change my mind, can I just come down there on my own?"

We chatted for about an hour. Jeremy told us details about the incident that changed his life. He told us he owes everything to his "truck buddies" and the EOD medical team who helped saved his life.

He also said he wants to continue serving in the Oregon Army National Guard.

"The National Guard has been good to me," he said. "It's all I've ever known. I hope to continue serving."

As we prepared to leave, he told us he wasn't in the Oregon National Guard very long--having transferred from the Alaska Army Guard just before the 41 Infantry Brigade Combat Team began their pre-deployment training at Camp Stewart, Calif.

He said since his fellow Alaskans weren't scheduled to deploy to the Middle East until 2012, he joined up with the 41 IBCT so he could deploy to a combat theater.

"I was only in the Oregon Guard for a couple of months," he said. "But everyone has been so nice to me--people from all throughout the Oregon Guard have come to see me, and written me letters."

Maj. Arntt then said something that the entire room was thinking at that very moment.

"It doesn't matter if you were in the Oregon National Guard for 10 minutes or 10 years," Arntt said. "You're part of our family now."

Indeed Jeremy. You ARE an Oregonian now.

Welcome to the family.

Posted by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy
Oregon National Guard Social Media Manager
(from Washington D.C.)

PS: If you feel compelled to send something to Jeremy Pierce, he likes Ghirardelli chocolate with almonds and hazel nuts. :) Please comment here if you would like his mailing address.