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Historic Changes in Today's Military

December 2008 -- As I sat down to start thinking about a topic for my article this month, the first thought that struck me was the number of historic changes that are in our immediate future for the National Guard and our Country. Some of these changes we, as ANG members, have had or will have direct input into the process. 

Twenty-five years ago I learned a valuable lesson as I went through the AF Land Survival School, and that is the tremendous impact a positive mental attitude can have in our daily lives. I tell you that to set up my view that each and every one of these changes are something to be excited about and looked upon as an opportunity or a challenge and never an obstacle that blocks our path to greatness. 

First of all, there are two changes in the Guard that will alter the very fabric of the interface
between our active duty brethren and those of us in the Guard. Lt Gen Craig McKinley, the current Director, Air National Guard, has been confirmed by the Senate to be promoted to General and move into the position of Chief, National Guard Bureau. Is it coincidence that the first four-star in the National Guard's 372 year history is an Airman? Secondly, Lt. Gen. Steven H. Blum, the current CNGB, will be moving to the position of Deputy Commander, United States Northern Command. Both of these promotions were made possible through the hard work of our Congressional staffs, members of the NGAUS, EANGUS, AGAUS, and all of you. 

The move of the Air Sovereignty Alert mission from the 127th FW to Toledo has now been
officially certified with the successful completion of our first Alert Force Evaluation. The NORAD IG team witnessed the professionalism and expertise of the 180th FW in action, and said unequivocally that we are "Mission- Ready!" In fact, they were so impressed with our Command Post team that they named them Superior Performers. Great job! My thanks go out to each and every Airman who made this transition happen in such a timely and efficient manner. This was truly a TEAM effort. 

Next, let's look inward for a moment and reflect on where we've been and where we are going. The Wing is currently in its second deployment to Balad AB, Iraq and our Security Force Squadron is prepping for another deployment to the Middle East. However, in the last eleven years we have deployed five times to Turkey in support of Operation Northern Watch, once to Kuwait to support of Operation Southern Watch, and once to Al Udied AB to support both OIF and OEF. That's a total of nine major combat deployments. And, let's not forget an ORI, UCI, HSI, a 9th AF Stan/Eval inspection, and the many (too numerous to list) smaller deployments all thrown in for good measure. So, where do we go from here? Current initiatives would suggest that every ANG unit will be associated with the AD in some way. Many ANG fighter units are pursuing some type of an activeassociate model. The details are yet to be worked out, but I would not be surprised to see some number of AD Airmen being stationed here at Toledo in the next four to five years. 

On a national scene, what a great time to be engaged in our election process. No matter your political affiliation, we will be making history on Nov 4th (I'm writing this on Oct 30th) when as a country we either elect the first female Vice President or the first African-American President of the United States. 

These are exciting times and I ask that you all stay engaged in the many different organizations and processes that are available to each and every one of you. We have financial challenges, we have challenges in the way our ANG will be structured in the future, and we have challenges in meeting our every day requirements for energy consumption, not to mention our challenges with meeting HHQ and COCOM tasking. 

On the national level, next year will bring potential changes to our overall Military Strategy as we go through the Quadrennial Defense Review and the new Quadrennial Homeland Defense Review. Our current national strategy says that Homeland Defense is our number one priority. Let's see where we go as our national military establishment wrestles with our countries priorities. 

I was at a conference recently with some congressional staffers in attendance. They were trying to impress upon us how much Congress listens to what we all have to say on matters affecting our ANG. So, please be passionate about what you do every day and let all of your elected officials know your needs and desires. 

Lastly, I can't let you go without these final thoughts. Please be very careful during the holiday season as you drive to a party or grandma's house. Have a designated driver, or if you need to drive, don't drink! I want to make sure we all have the opportunity to get back together and work on some of these challenges in January 2009. Again, I thank you all for what you do and the sacrifice your families and employers make to allow you to defend this great country. I am especially proud to be your Commander during these challenging and historic times. Keep up that PMA! 

Have a safe and happy holiday season.

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