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Gov. Branstad joins letter of 50 governors in continued effort to leverage the cost effectiveness of the National Guard PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Office of the Governor of the State of Iowa   
Tuesday, 04 March 2014 08:55

Letter sent as President Obama reappoints Gov. Branstad as Co-Chairman of the Council of Governors

(DES MOINES) – Gov. Branstad today joined a letter signed by 50 governors to President Obama to express overwhelming bipartisan concerns regarding the Obama Administration’s proposed Army budget.

The governors write:  “For more than a decade, our National Guard has demonstrated that it is a cost-effective, operational force that is critical to our national security at home and abroad.”

This past weekend, Gov. Branstad discussed his concerns about the cuts to the National Guard with his colleagues during the meetings of the National Governors Association.  He also directly shared concerns with President Obama, Vice President Biden, Secretary of Defense Hagel, and additional high-level Pentagon leaders.

In addition, President Obama yesterday announced he reappointed Gov. Branstad as co-chairman of the Council of Governors.

The Council of Governors was established by the National Defense Authorization Act in 2008 to strengthen further partnership between the Federal and State governments as it pertains to national security. The council is balanced by political party and serves the nation as a whole. The governors serve two-year terms and are appointed by the President. The President designates two members of different political affiliations to serve as co-chairs of the Council. The governors work closely with the Adjutants General, including Major General Timothy Orr, to help amplify the states’ perspective in Federal policy discussions.

Governor Branstad stated the following: “Iowans are served extremely well by the men and women of the Iowa National Guard.  The Guard has helped communities across Iowa effectively respond to disasters, like floods and tornadoes, and Guard personnel have aptly served our entire nation abroad since 9/11.”

Lt. Governor Reynolds stated the following: “In a time of fiscal constraints the Guard provides our nation with a cost-effective hedge against risk, provides capability and capacity, and the ability to quickly surge to meet our nation’s security needs.  With the Guard we get double value as Guard personnel serve our citizens at home during emergencies, and serve effectively in operations overseas.”

Major General Timothy Orr, Adjutant General of the Iowa National Guard, stated the following:  “The Iowa National Guard has proven its readiness, reliability, and cost-effectiveness continually over the past 12 years. The performance of our Soldiers, Airmen, and units during the historic operation tempo of our nation’s military has been second to none, particularly as evidenced by the deployment of more than 17,000 Iowa National Guard Soldiers and Airmen in defense of our nation since Sept. 11, 2001. We are deeply appreciative of the efforts of Governor Branstad and all of the nation’s governors to maintain the readiness and organizational integrity of the National Guard.”

Since 9/11, significant growth in the Army active duty was not matched in the Guard personnel increases.  Governors and Adjutants General are now encouraging congressional leaders to preserve National Guard force structure and end-strength.  State leaders understand the need to cut Federal spending and want Federal leaders to work with the Adjutants General to find and achieve cost savings and common ground.  State leaders do not want the Guard to return to its former role as a strategic reserve.  The Guard also helps drive connectivity between the 1% of Americans who serve and the 99% of Americans who do not or have not.

The full text of the letter is as follows:

February 28, 2014

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

The nation’s governors strongly oppose the potential cuts to the Army National Guard advocated by the U.S. Army’s fiscal 2015 budget request.

For more than a decade, our National Guard has demonstrated it is a cost-effective, operational force that is critical to our national security at home and abroad.

As commanders-in-chief, we appreciate the need to reorganize, restructure and modernize the military to meet new threats and economic realities. All sectors of the military need to be involved in meeting the targets set by the Budget Control Act of 2011 and the realities of having fewer forces engaged abroad. In doing so, however, the Army Guard’s operational capabilities and 350,000 end strength level must be preserved.

The Army’s proposed cuts suggest a pre-2001 strategic reserve construct. Governors are extremely proud of the role that the National Guard plays in protecting this nation and its citizens. The modern National Guard is a highly experienced and capable combat force and an essential state partner in responding to domestic disasters and emergencies. A return to a pre-9/11 role squanders the investment and value of the Guard and discredits its accomplishments at home and as an active combat force.

Two years ago we opposed similar efforts to dramatically cut personnel and equipment from the Air National Guard. Congress subsequently chose not to impose the cuts and called for a National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force. That commission recently concluded that the Guard is a cost-effective and invaluable force that should be a critical component of the total force structure. The Commission’s conclusions and the ongoing Army debate strengthen the case for a similar independent review of the Army’s future force structure and active and reserve component mix.

We respectfully request that you reconsider proposed cuts to the Army National Guard and changes to the Guard’s combat aviation capabilities, and that you work with us to fashion solutions that provide a scalable, cost-effective force that best serves the interests of our nation.

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COMMENTARY: possible cuts to the National Guard PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 04 March 2014 08:54

Q & A on the National Guard

with U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley

 

Q: What are your thoughts on the President’s military budget proposal?

A: First, getting this administration to propose less federal spending in any area ought to be music to the ears of the taxpaying public. It’s long overdue for Washington to exercise across-the-board fiscal discipline and dial back Uncle Sam’s spending spree that puts taxpayers on the hook for generations to come.  That’s why I voted against raising the debt ceiling and against the budget agreement in December that raised fees and lifted the spending lid previously agreed to in the Budget Control Act of 2011. The Obama administration’s $496 billion military spending request previewed by the Defense Secretary raises important questions. As a tight-fisted fiscal conservative, I’m all for trimming the fat. But the plans put forward by Secretary Chuck Hagel may do more harm than good. Specifically, does the proposed reduction in troops put at greater risk our men and women in uniform? We can’t afford to gut America’s military muscle that may undermine the federal government’s most fundamental responsibility to provide for the nation’s security. Will shrinking the armed forces to pre-World War II levels maintain military readiness to respond to unforeseen, emerging 21st century threats? There are plenty of cuts to go around. But the Pentagon needs to consider cost-saving measures that would not destabilize U.S. military authority and strategic interests around the world. For example, reducing troop levels and trimming military pay and benefits without taking accountable steps to root out systemic financial mismanagement at the Pentagon would be a terrible mistake.  I’ve identified cost savings that could be achieved through better audit procedures, completely apart from personnel levels.

Q: How does the National Guard tie in to the proposed budget request?

 

A: The U.S. Army is made up of three components: full-time, active duty soldiers; Army National Guard troops (in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and three U.S. territories); and, Army Reservists. The Iowa National Guard includes 9,200 members. The adjutant general of the Iowa Guard recently told state lawmakers that for the first time since 2003, the Iowa National Guard does not have troops serving in combat missions overseas. The National Guard serves a unique dual mission. In addition to training combat-ready soldiers who may be called up to active duty, the Guard also responds to homeland security threats, domestic emergencies and natural disasters in local communities across the state. According to the budget proposal advanced by Secretary Hagel, the U.S. Army would drop from 520,000 to roughly 440,000 soldiers by 2019. The Army National Guard and Army Reserve would see a five percent reduction, trimming the National Guard from today’s 335,000 to 315,000; and reducing the Army Reserve from 205,000 to 185,000. The Defense Secretary pitched the budget proposal under the guise of fiscal discipline. And yet, the National Guard has a strong record of making the most cost-effective use of defense dollars. Policymakers need to make sure we don’t shortchange the taxpaying public by downsizing the military to levels that would require even more expensive upgrades, recruitments and training in the long run to address unforeseen security needs. The National Guard has proven itself as a capable, experienced force on the front lines when called to active duty. As good coaches know, your team is only as strong as your bench. So as Washington looks to cut costs, we need to make sure the savings aren’t misguided shortcuts that turn out to be more expensive down the road.

Q: What is your position on how the budget request would impact the National Guard?

 

A: Every tax dollar spent by Uncle Sam deserves scrutiny.  No doubt the Defense Department needs to make sound fiscal decisions as it makes adjustments from wartime spending levels and looks ahead to maintain military readiness with looming budgetary restrictions. However, I’m concerned the proposed military spending request fails to adequately reflect the National Guard’s role as a fully operational reserve, which is a vital, cost-effective component of the total force structure. That’s why I joined bipartisan forces with a dozen lawmakers in a letter to Secretary Hagel that points out the shortsighted approach to the Guard’s share of proposed cuts.  It would be penny-wise and pound-foolish to squander the investments made to train and outfit the men and women serving in the National Guard. The American people depend on the best Army we can afford to protect the homeland and U.S. strategic interests. Iowa communities, law enforcement and emergency preparedness teams have reason to take pride in their local heroes who work full-time in the private sector and make the time to serve their country and their community as members of the National Guard. They embrace the motto of the National Guard in service to their country and their community: “Always Ready, Always There.”  As a keeper of the purse strings in Congress, I will work to make sure the Army isn’t cutting off its nose to spite its own face.  To meet the nation’s most urgent threats, America will need a nimble, expandable, affordable and experienced force structure. By that measure, the National Guard is not an expendable part of our military readiness equation.

Friday, February 28, 2014

 
Lt. Col. Tim Franklin retires after more than 33 years of service PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Sgt. James D. Sims, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment   
Thursday, 27 February 2014 15:51

SPRINGFIELD, IL (02/27/2014)(readMedia)-- Lt. Col. Tim W. Franklin of Springfield, Ill., is hanging up his uniform after more than 33 years of military service. Franklin has served as the full-time program coordinator for the Illinois Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) since 2006 and will continue to serve as the training director for the Illinois ESGR as a volunteer.

"I believe in what ESGR does for the members of the National Guard and Reserve, their employers and families, so I look forward to continuing with the organization as a volunteer," said Franklin.

Franklin began his military career as a photography specialist when he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. He was assigned to the 62nd Tactical Reconaisance Squadron at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. He received his commission in the Air Force in 1985 through Officer Training School.

"It wasn't always easy having him away as part of his service in the Guard, but it's made me very proud to have a father in the military, and has given me an even greater respect for other men and women who serve," said Amy Franklin, the oldest of the Franklin children.

Franklin served as a member of the Oregon Air National Guard and also in the Wisconsin Army National Guard, first in the Field Artillery and then with the 129th Public Affairs Detachment. Since 1998, he has served as a member of the Illinois Army National Guard.

"When my wife and I first met, we were both members of the Air Force, so she already knew about military service and how demanding it can be at times. I have had to miss my share of birthdays, holidays and other family events over the years," said Franklin. "However, like all of us who serve in uniform, I try my best to keep that balance between military service and family life. Sometimes I've been more successful at it than other times during the course of my career, depending on what the military demands were at the time."

Franklin deployed twice during his National Guard career, including Operation Joint Guardian in Kosovo from 1997 to 1998 and Operation Enduring Freedom-Afghanistan with Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix VIII as the task force public affairs officer from 2008 to 2009.

"Lieutenant Colonel Franklin was good to his Soldiers. He shared their concerns and listened to their problems, helping in any way he could," said Nathan Hastings, a former public affairs sergeant with the Illinois Army National Guard who deployed to Afghanistan with Franklin as a broadcast journalist.

"I always felt like he watched over our group in Afghanistan as if we were his own children," said Hastings.

Franklin said the National Guard has opened up a lot of opportunities that he may not have had as a civilian.

"The best part of serving has to be the people you serve with and the unique opportunities and experiences the military and the Guard offers," said Franklin. "I have had a great career and have met and served with some incredible people, both as an enlisted member and as an officer. I have made many lifelong friendships with those I have served with in the Guard. I am sure this is true of other professions, but I think it is especially true among the military and the Guard. During my time in the military, I have been to countries on every continent except Africa and Antarctica. I think those types of opportunities give Guardsmen a world perspective that many of our citizens don't have."

Franklin was part of the largest overseas deployment of Illinois Army National Guard troops in 2008, when the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team in Urbana, Ill., deployed to Afghanistan. Nearly 3,000 Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers augmented Task Force Phoenix VIII.

"It was an honor to have Tim Franklin as a part of Task Force Phoenix VIII," said retired Brig. Gen. Steven P. Huber of Byron, Ill., the combined joint task force commander for Task Force Phoenix VIII. "He played an integral part of my command. He was one whom I could always rely upon to keep me on message and it was fun doing videos with him for those back home. He is a team player and I am glad to call him a friend."

Franklin said he didn't really have any profound advice, but stated that if you are joining the military for rank, awards and recognition, you are in it for the wrong reasons. Those things will come to you if you are in it for the right reasons.

Erin Franklin, the younger of the two Franklin children gave some indication as to where you may find the retired Franklin.

"When the weather is nice my dad likes to sit out on the porch, watching the birds eat from his feeder, a cigar in one hand, a home-brewed beer by his side, and listening to music like Bob Marley or the Beatles or some jazz," she said.

 
106th Cavalry celebrates a year full of accomplishments PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Staff Sgt. Patrick DeGeorge, 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs   
Wednesday, 26 February 2014 11:21

EAST PEORIA, IL (02/24/2014)(readMedia)-- Soldiers and family members of the 2nd Squadron, 106th Cavalry Regiment (2-106th) gathered for the seventh annual cavalry ball at the Riverfront Conference Center in East Peoria, Ill., Feb. 22.

The evening began when the Draper Armor Leadership Award was presented to Troop B, 2-106th in Dixon, Ill., an award given to top cavalry units in the nation. Capt. Michael R. Kowalski of Chicago Heights, Ill., Troop B commander, retired 1st Sgt. Eric L. Brown of Dixon, Ill., former Troop B first sergeant and 1st Sgt. Kevin T. Guyot of Lindenhurst, Ill., current Troop B first sergeant, received the award on behalf of the troop.

"The Draper, as a troop award, really embodies how far we've come as a two-time deployed cavalry unit," Kowalski said. "This is a pretty big deal with the other brigades we were competing against."

Lt. Col. Wickliffe P. Draper established the award in 1924 as a means to competitively test the leadership of small cavalry units. Only armor companies and cavalry troops are eligible to receive the Draper Award.

"The unit has earned it," said Brown. "This troop has a history of camaraderie. A history of always working together. That is why they earned it."

Following the Draper Award presentation, retired Master Sgt. Allen J. Lynch of Gurnee, Ill., who received the Medal of Honor for actions while assigned to Company D, 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment in Vietnam Dec. 15, 1967, spoke to the squadron.

"It's great to be back with the cavalry," Lynch told the troopers. "It's nice to see all those Stetsons (the ceremonial headwear of the cavalry) in the audience."

Lynch spoke about the importance of training at all levels.

"When I got in my first firefight and my M-16 jammed, I don't remember fixing it," he said. "We had been so well trained at that point, I just fixed it without thinking."

Lynch also told the troopers never to allow one mistake to dictate a Soldier's career. He recalled an experience where one of his own Soldiers made a tragic mistake that cost the life of a close friend.

"After that, nobody wanted anything to do with John," said Lynch. "He had to earn his way back to being with us."

Lynch said when he left Vietnam, John had learned from his mistake and had been made a squad leader.

After his speech, Lynch was presented with a cavalry saber and plaque by Lt. Col. Mark Alessia of Sherman, Ill., the 2nd Squadron, 106th Cavalry Regiment commander.

"I wish I could ride a horse with this right now," Lynch said while holding the saber over his head.

Later in the evening Ashley Roux, Troop B family readiness group president, was inducted into the order of Saint Joan D' Arc for exceptional volunteerism to promote the moral and spirit of the cavalry.

The night concluded with seven Soldiers inducted into the order of Saint George. The order was established in 1986 to recognize the very best tankers and cavalrymen.

Those inducted into the order of Saint George included Staff Sgt. Travis Ellefritz of Pekin, Ill., a squad leader with Troop B; Staff Sgt. Kyle Bishop of Cherry Valley, Ill., Troop B readiness noncommissioned officer; Sgt. 1st Class Zachary MacGrath of Clinton, Ill., the former Troop B readiness noncommissioned officer; 1st Sgt. Eric Achuff of Kewanee, Ill., the Headquarters and Headquarters Troop (HHT), 2-106th first sergeant; 2nd Lt. William Leak of Normal, Ill., a platoon leader with Troop A, 2-106th; 1st Lt. Brad Yakle of Washington, Ill., a staff officer with HHT, 2-106th; and Capt. Michael Kowalski of Chicago Heights, Ill., Troop B commander.

After the order of Saint George was concluded, 1st Sgt. David Ziolkowski of New Lenox, Ill., Troop C, 2-106th first sergeant, was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for more than 21 years of meritorious service to both the 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry Regiment and 2nd Squadron, 106th Cavalry Regiment.

Once the formal ceremony concluded, the troopers and their families enjoyed a night of socializing and reminiscing.

 
Branstad, Reynolds announce removal of barriers for veterans, military spouses who want to teach in Iowa PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Office of the Governor of the State of Iowa   
Friday, 14 February 2014 08:36

Announcement comes as Iowa House Subcommittee passes similar measure for professional and occupational licensure of veterans and their spouses

(DES MOINES) – Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds today announced a new effort to eliminate licensing barriers for qualified veterans and military spouses who want to teach in Iowa.

The Iowa Board of Educational Examiners has created a new military exchange license for veterans and military spouses who have teaching credentials but face new licensure requirements when they move to Iowa. Military families move every few years for employment, and spouses who are teachers must relicense and meet new requirements with each move to a new state.

The new license ties in with the Branstad-Reynolds administration’s Home Base Iowa Initiative to recruit veterans to Iowa. The announcement comes on the same day as the Iowa House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee passed House Study Bill 616, an Act relating to professional and occupational licensure of veterans and the spouses of veterans.

“This was the right thing to do. These are standout citizens who are defending our freedoms or are supporting family members who are defending our freedoms,” said Branstad. “I’m pleased the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners has removed this barrier that causes military families to seek a new licensure in the state of Iowa.”

About 70 percent of out-of-state residents who apply for teaching licenses in Iowa must take additional coursework to meet the state’s licensure standards.

“The Home Base Iowa Act that Governor Branstad and I have proposed would direct all licensing boards to take action similar to what the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners has done,” said Reynolds. “We know members of the military and their spouses will bring a wide array of skills and knowledge to Iowa. Continued action like this will ensure our service members and their spouses are able to land the career that meets their qualifications.”

The new military exchange license enables veterans and military spouses to teach up to three years without taking any additional college courses. The license also is offered at a reduced cost of $85 instead of $210.

The military exchange license is a three-year license. After three years, the license can be converted to a one-year license, giving license-holders full authority to teach while they take the required classes.  Once the requirements are met, the license can be converted to a regular Iowa teaching license.

Eligible applicants must have completed a teacher preparation program through a college or university and must have been a licensed teacher in another state.  Teachers who completed an alternative teacher preparation program outside of a college or university and are not eligible for full licensure will be granted substitute licenses.

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