Military & Veterans News
Illinois National Guard, Polish Bonds Remain Strong During Best A9 Mission PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Illinois National Guard PAO   
Wednesday, 14 March 2012 13:08

WEDRYZN, POLAND (03/02/2012)(readMedia)-- By 1st Lt. Matthew Morris and 1st Lt. Nico Smith, Illinois Army National Guard BEST A9

The weather was frigid but not unfamiliar to the Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Bilateral Embedded Support Team (BEST) A9 who arrived in Poland Feb. 3. The BEST A9 arrived in Wedryzn, Poland where they are assisting the Polish 6th Airborne Brigade certify its two battalion task forces prior to their deployment to Afghanistan this month.

"I'm very impressed with the trust placed in their lower enlisted to do the right thing and the mentality they have while they conduct training," said Sgt. 1st Class William Ingles of Steeleville, with BEST A9. "Their attitude is not 'why are we training' but 'when.' The design is very practical and a lot of fun to watch."

The primary focus of the Illinois National Guard Soldiers' training the past few weeks was to learn the customs and leadership style of their Polish counterparts.

This deployment is part of the State Partnership Program (SPP), which was created in 1993 to assist the Polish government and military transition into NATO after the fall of the Soviet Union. Co-deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan with Polish Forces began in 2003 where the partnership evolved from an advisory role to an enabler of warfighting capacities.

The work schedule also allows time for the team to experience Polish culture and history. Illinois Soldiers have travelled to Ostwald, an area once occupied by Germany, to visit one part of an enormous structure of bunkers that spans from the Baltic Sea heading south underground for 400 kilometers. They also travelled to Sulecin, a small town a couple kilometers away from the training base.

With few English speaking natives, the team relies heavily on Sgt. Arthur Boruch of Orland Park, the only fluent Polish speaker on the team.

"It's been an interesting and challenging experience communicating the needs of 17 people," he said. "It can get exhausting but overall it's been great showing the guys the Polish culture I've known from growing up in a Polish speaking household."

The recent training between Illinois and Polish Soldiers was marked by a gesture of unity Feb. 17 when Brig. Gen. Bogdan Tworkowski, Commander of the Polish 6th Airborne Brigade, placed the unit's shoulder patch on each member of the BEST team while Col. Troy Phillips of Philo, BEST A9 commander, presented the Illinois colors to fly alongside the Polish National Flag.

"We are one team, one unit, and we are very glad to have the BEST team on board. I am sure that our efforts together will result in success," Tworkowski said.

 
Illinois State Military Museum: Citizen-Soldiers of Yesterday and Tomorrow PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Spc. Kristi Goodin, Illinois National Guard Historian Assistant   
Tuesday, 28 February 2012 14:30

SPRINGFIELD, IL (02/27/2012)(readMedia)-- The white brick castle walls of the Illinois State Military Museum in Springfield surround the rich history of the Illinois National Guard. The dark wood floor and dim lights bring people to a quiet serenity and the original artifacts propel life to history. Patrons frequently ask how the museum began, but the beginning of the story barely covers the long road that led to the castle museum we know today.

The Illinois State Military Museum has a place on the National Register of Historical Places after years of uncertainty and emptiness. The castle was built between the years of 1903 and 1909 by Col. James Culver, owner of the Culver Stone Company and commander of the Illinois National Guard's 5th Illinois Infantry Regiment. The museum was to serve as a commissary and/or a quartermaster building.

"The National Guard was issued considerable quantities of federal property, such as weapons and ammunition, and it was important that this property be safeguarded and stored in a location that would protect it," said Lt. Col. Mark K. Whitlock, Carbondale native. Whitlock is Joint Force Headquarters chief historian and former director of the Illinois State Military Museum, both in Springfield.

The museum sat for years as a storage facility for artifacts of American Civil War veterans piled up since 1878. The artifacts came from generous donations of veterans, their families and from within the Army system, said Whitlock. The Illinois State Military Museum's greatest collection is the collection of more than 1,000 flags, guidons and regimental colors that are primarily from the Civil War.

For years, the artifacts were safeguarded by retired Warrant Officer Charles "Charlie" Munie from Decatur, who also initiated historical displays and reminded people the state of Illinois has a great collection of artifacts that should be preserved and someday exhibited in a proper museum.

When Whitlock was hired as the director in 1995, he started to organize a 1920s wooden Civilian Conservation Corps barracks into a temporary museum with a yearly budget of roughly $16,000.

"The money did not go very far, but it was all we had for purchasing supplies and exhibit building materials necessary to get the museum up and running," said Whitlock.

The museum officially opened to the public in 2003 to become the note-worthy institution it is today. Whitlock said he took many steps to ensure it would be a success, such as developing a cooperative and productive relationship between the museum, and Illinois National Guard and Militia Historical Society, Inc. He pushed the leadership to hire additional staff and left it better than he found it.

"I think it is important that we give credit to the great Illinoisans who came before me and collected and documented the treasures that we are able to enjoy in the museum today," said Whitlock.

Whitlock's hard work to receive additional support eventually worked, because the director now has a curatorial staff including a museum curator, two assistant curators, an executive director and volunteers.

"The volunteers are invaluable," said retired Brig. Gen. Stewart Reeve of Pittsfield, director of the Illinois Military Museum. "They have a vast knowledge of different periods in Illinois history that they can relay in a clear fashion to visitors."

Reeve was appointed director Aug. 1, 2011. Since then he has made the museum more current by highlighting exhibits for black history month and women's history month, hosting events for the public, and changing the exhibits often for people who visit regularly.

Recently, Reeve planned exhibits that emphasize the parts of history he feels are sadly forgotten and sometimes not even recognized by National Guard Soldiers, such as the State Partnership Program, peacekeeping missions and Eastern Europe. He said he feels the most important purpose of the museum is to tell the story of how the Illinois National Guard has contributed to supporting and protecting Illinois citizens and U.S. citizens nationwide, which are not limited to combat operations.

"On some level, I don't think the National Guard understands what Illinois troops have done," said Reeve. "I don't think there's the institutional knowledge of what we've done and that's one of the things I think the museum can help with the most."

Whitlock and Reeve agreed the artifacts can leave someone with a deep understanding of what the service members of the past went through. Reeve said his favorite exhibit is the World War II area in the museum because one sees the way the service members lived, worked, and died. One will walk out with a deeper appreciation for what service members did.

"My favorite artifact is the damaged up-armored windshield from a humvee that is attributed with saving the lives of the Soldiers seated behind it," said Whitlock. "The connection between an inanimate object and lives that were spared because of it, always gave me goose bumps to talk about with visitors."

For more information on the Illinois State Military Museum call Reeve at 217-761-3384. For more information on the Illinois Militia Historical Society, Inc., contact Larry Johnson 217-761-3645 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 
Deputy Defense Secretary Meets with Polish Troops, Talks Partnership PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr., American Forces Press Service   
Monday, 27 February 2012 15:32

GHAZNI PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN (02/23/2012)(readMedia)-- Partnership has been essential to success in Iraq and Afghanistan, and this emphasis continued as Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter met with Polish troops here today.

Carter met with Polish Brig. Gen. Piotr Blazeusz, commander of Task Force White Eagle, Polish Col. Jan Rydz, deputy commander, and U.S. Army Col. Thomas Purple, Rochester, Ill. native and coalition deputy commander, at Forward Operating Base Ghazni to reaffirm the U.S. partnership with nations contributing to the effort in Afghanistan.

"Thank you very much ... to the Polish contingent here," Carter said. "You've been great partners right from the very beginning, and we are admiring of your professionalism and dedication."

Polish military leaders told the secretary they are working very closely with coalition troops from other nations, and there is a "very good partnership with U.S. forces in the area."

The group talked about logistics, building capacity in the area, construction and other operational issues. Following their discussions, Carter re-emphasized that the union between U.S. forces and Polish troops serves as "a great, great partnership."

Officials of the Illinois National Guard, which serves as part of Task Force White Eagle and has a state partnership with Poland, noted the partnership is extensive, as the Guard soldiers spend two months training in Poland before their six- to seven-and-a-half-month deployments.

"Chicago has the largest population of Polish in the world, superseding Warsaw," noted Army Maj. Rhonda Peterson, a logistics officer with the Illinois National Guard.

Carter showed his appreciation as the leaders exchanged gifts, and he spoke of the appreciation for the Polish troops' service.

"Thanks, once again," he said. "It's very clear this is a great partnership."

 
Grassley continues efforts to strengthen hand of military whistleblowers PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 27 February 2012 15:08

Thursday, February 23, 2012

WASHINGTON -- Senator Chuck Grassley says a new report makes clear that there’s a lot of work yet to do for military whistleblowers who speak up on behalf of rank-and-file troops, national security and fiscal responsibility.

“While the situation is improving, there’s a long way to go in making it work as it should for those who step up and speak out about wrongdoing and problems.  Reprisal against military whistleblowers is alive and well in the Pentagon, unfortunately, so oversight efforts must continue full force,” Grassley said.

In a report released this week (click here to see the report), the Government Accountability Office said that until the Inspector General for the Defense Department implements certain oversight mechanisms, it can’t know that “it is effectively conducting its oversight responsibilities or implementing the whistleblower reprisal program as intended.”

Grassley said he requested this report from the Government Accountability Office to see how problems he identified previously with whistleblower reprisal investigations are being addressed.  “Several years ago, I did an in-depth review of how the Inspector General handled military whistleblower cases.  The lack of oversight was appalling.  The Inspector General was asking zero questions about the reprisal investigations being conducted by Inspectors General for the services, even though scrutiny was desperately needed,” Grassley said.

Grassley’s earlier review looked at an egregious case in depth, that of Navy Lieutenant Jason Hudson.  The Inspector General for the Justice Department subsequently did a peer review and confirmed many of Grassley’s findings.

Grassley said this worked helped to build a case for legislation that directed the Defense Department Inspector General to correct deficiencies.  It was passed in 2009, as part of the annual defense authorization bill.

“Whistleblowers are in a position to identify fraud that may otherwise go undetected, and courageous whistleblowers who stick out their necks and speak up about mismanagement and abuse help keep government accountable.  Our system is better off thanks to whistleblowers,” Grassley said.

Grassley has a long record of advocacy for individual whistleblowers, legislative reforms to protect and empower whistleblowers both in and out of government, and oversight of whistleblower protections.  His efforts began more than 20 years ago with questions raised by whistleblowers about Defense Department spending.

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Chatham National Guard Soldier Retires After 24 Years of Service PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Sgt. James Sims, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment   
Monday, 27 February 2012 14:25

Soldier Will No Longer Don the Army Uniform, but Continues to Serve the Illinois National Guard

SPRINGFIELD, IL (02/22/2012)(readMedia)-- Retirement can conjure up images of traveling, relaxing or maybe grabbing a fishing pole and heading to the lake, but retired Master Sgt. Kimberly S. Broome, of Chatham, may be beginning her most challenging and important assignment of her career.

Broome, a native of Chicago, officially retired from the Illinois National Guard Dec. 31 and was recently hired by the Department of Military Affairs as the executive assistant to the Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard at Camp Lincoln in Springfield. The Adjutant General is the highest position within the Illinois National Guard, responsible for all daily operations of the Illinois National Guard and overseeing its 13,500 men and women in uniform.

"I love working with Soldiers," said Broome. "That is all I have been doing since I graduated from high school. It is like working with family."

Broome said the decision to continue to serve her country in a different capacity was an easy decision.

"Working at Camp Lincoln for the (Adjutant) General is a great honor," said Broome.

The commander of the Illinois National Guard is excited to have Broome working for him.

"With more than two decades in uniform, Kim offers a lot of experience and it's great to see her continue to serve her country and state," said Maj. Gen. William Enyart, the Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard.

Broome joined the National Guard Sept. 1, 1988 after graduating from high school.

"I wanted to go to college but did not want to burden my parents," said Broome. "I also thought it would be a great way to travel and be able to give back."

During her nearly 24 years of service Broome has served in several different military jobs including human resources specialist, automated logistical specialist, unit supply specialist and patient administration specialist.

Broome deployed as the supply sergeant with the 1244th Transportation Company of North Riverside in 2003 for 18 months to Kuwait. While deployed, Broome earned the Combat Action Badge and the Army Commendation Medal.

Upon her retirement Broome was presented with an honorable discharge, certificates of retirement and service, a certification of appreciation from the President of the United States and a meritorious service medal.

Broome has a 14-year-old-daughter, Maya, who is a freshman in high school.

"One of the many blessings over my 24 year career is the amount of traveling and the many parts of the world I've been able to see; it is priceless," said Broome. "The experience is immeasurable. I am certainly grateful."

Broome said the end of her federal career and beginning of her state career is only the start of something else special.

"As I look back over my military career and all the friends I've made, which essentially has become a part of my family, it's not so much that I'm retiring, I'm just beginning a new chapter," said Broome, "One that will allow me more time to focus on my daughter as she becomes a young lady and prepare her for her future."

 

 
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