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 ljohnson@ilng-history.org.

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."

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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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."

 

Braley helped secure $2 million to fund renovation project in 2009

 

Davenport, IA - Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today attended the reopening of the Iowa National Guard's Aviation Readiness Center, lauding the renovation of the facility and saying it will enhance the ability of the Guard to save lives and protect Iowa.  In 2009, Braley helped secure $2 million to fund the renovation project.

 

"The renovation of the Iowa National Guard's Aviation Readiness Center helped create jobs here in the Quad Cities and has given the facility new life," Braley said.  "I'm proud of my work helping to make this needed renovation happen.  This beautiful facility is a great addition to the Davenport area and will help the Iowa National Guard do its job."

 

The $2.1 million project completed today is the second part of a two-phase project that renovated the entire National Guard facility, originally constructed in 1972.  The first phase of the renovation was completed in 2010.

 

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SPARTA, IL (02/15/2012)(readMedia)-- Deployment ceremony

WHO:

• 662nd Engineer Fire Fighting Team in Sparta

WHAT:

• A deployment ceremony is scheduled for approximately 10 Soldiers who are scheduled to deploy in support of Operation Enduring Freedom this winter.

WHEN/WHERE:

• Feb. 21 at 2 p.m. at the Sparta armory fire station, 1803 N. Hillcrest Drive in Sparta.

WHY:

• The 662nd will provide fire department emergency response services for deployed forces in the Operation Enduring Freedom theater of operations. Potential missions include, but are not limited to: fire prevention and protection, structural and aircraft fire fighting, vehicle rescue, emergency medical and hazardous materials incident response.

• Additionally, the team will be involved in the Rescue Air Mobile Squad (RAMS) mission, providing personnel rescue capabilities in tactical situations. During a RAMS mission, the team is transported via helicopter to a remote emergency incident and will perform rapid technical rescue and medical stabilization measures for U.S. and coalition personnel who are entrapped and/or otherwise injured as a result of enemy action.

For more information, contact the Public Affairs office at ngilstaffpao@ng.army.mil or call 217-761-3569.

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Braley Urges Pentagon to Remove Remaining Barriers to Women's Military Service

Military announced review to relax policies last week, but women still face restrictions

 

Washington, DC - Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today urged Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to remove all remaining barriers restricting the service of female members of the US Armed Forces.

 

Last week, the Department of Defense announced that it was revising its Combat Exclusion Policy to allow women to serve in expanded roles in the military.  Braley applauded the move.  However, even with the revisions, women will still be prohibited from serving in combat roles.

 

"The Pentagon's experience in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last decade should forever remove any doubt of the ability of women to serve in military combat roles," Braley said.  "Veterans like Tammy Duckworth, who piloted a combat helicopter over Iraq and earned the Purple Heart and Air Medal for her service, to Leigh Ann Hester, who earned the Silver Star for her valor when her convoy was attacked by Iraqi insurgents, to Iowa's own Alex Jansen, who was awarded the Bronze Star for her service in Iraq, have demonstrated the capabilities of women on the battlefield.  It's time to remove these barriers once and for all and fully acknowledge that women have a place in the military, serving right alongside men."

 

The Pentagon's Combat Exclusion Policy has also had the effect of preventing women from climbing the ranks of military leadership.   In over 200 years of American military history, only two women have been nominated to 4-star command positions.

 

Braley made the request in a letter to Secretary Panetta, the text of which follows.  A copy of the letter can be downloaded at the following link: http://go.usa.gov/Qyu

 

--

 

The Honorable Leon Panetta

Secretary of Defense

1000 Defense Pentagon

Washington, D.C. 20301

 

Dear Secretary Panetta,

 

I am writing today to commend the Department of Defense for their recent review of the Combat Exclusion Policy restricting the service of female members of the U.S. Armed Forces. While the decision to loosen the restrictions on women serving in combat is a good step forward, the review can and should go further to remove all of the barriers in place.

 

The last decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan has proven that women are more than capable of serving in the combat arms.  Since 2001, despite standing prohibitions on women in combat, a number of American women have distinguished themselves in combat earning numerous military awards.  Female combat pilots, allowed to serve in those roles since the mid-90s, have proven themselves flying sorties in support of operations around the world.  Most recently, Female Engagement Teams in Afghanistan have been a vital part of our counterinsurgency effort to better connect with the female civilian population.

 

The Department's review can and should go further to promote equality by permitting those women who are willing and able to serve in combat roles.  The last decade should remove any question on the ability of women to serve and arguments against their service are nothing more than bureaucratic blustering at its worst. Despite claims to the contrary, one needs only look at the list of promotions by the military services to recognize that advancement to the highest echelons of command is tied to experience in the combat arms.  In the over 200 years of our nation's history, only two women have been nominated to 4-star command positions. To truly ensure equality in our armed forces, women must be allowed to fight.

 

I appreciate your attention to this matter, and look forward to your continued work to reform the Department of Defense to ensure that we have the best fighting force that we possibly can, and that we are not turning away qualified and capable warriors for any reason.

 

Sincerely,

 

Bruce Braley

Member of Congress

 

Cc: Dr. Jo Ann Rooney, Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness

 

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Senator Chuck Grassley made the following comment after a meeting he hosted today for members of the Iowa congressional delegation with the Secretary of the Air Force regarding Air Force budget reduction recommendations to retire the 21 F-16 fighter aircraft assigned to the 124th Fighter Squadron, Iowa Air National Guard in Des Moines.  The meeting was held in the U.S. Capitol.

"A lot of mixed signals were sent by the Air Force in today's meeting.  The Iowa congressional delegation is on the same wavelength and committed in a bipartisan, bicameral way to getting the data that the Air Force said it used to make a decision that the Air Force claimed was based on a cost-benefit analysis.  We want this data in order to reconcile an additional comment made by Air Force officials in today's meeting that judgment, beyond the data, was also involved in its decision.  This judgment comment detracts from the Air Force statement that everything was measured for cost and benefit.  Overall, it's a question of safeguarding national security dollars because the Guard has shown to be more cost effective for missions such as a fighter squadron than the Active Duty, and Guard pilots tend to be more experienced since they stay in the service over a long period of time.  The discouraging part is that my feeling was that the Air Force has made its decision, but it will be up to Congress to decide whether to approve the Air Force plan and National Guard advocates in Congress are already signaling that they won't go along quietly with the Air Force's plan to take so many cuts out of the Air Guard.

 

 

Iowa Delegation met with Donley to press case for Iowa Air National Guard F-16 Wing

Washington, DC - Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) released the following statement after he joined Iowa's Congressional delegation for a meeting to urge Air Force Secretary Michael Donley to abandon plans to remove all F-16 fighter aircraft operated by the Iowa Air National Guard from their base in Des Moines:

"It's clear from today's meeting that the Air Force must provide more answers and better justification for their decision.  The Iowa Delegation made clear our objections to the removal of F-16s from the 132nd Fighter Wing, one of the most cost-efficient units in the Air Force."

 

"If the goal is to reduce costs, downsizing the Iowa Air National Guard while less efficient units and less experienced pilots are preserved just doesn't make any sense.  We urged Secretary Donley to carefully reconsider whether this recommendation is in the best interest of national security  and American taxpayers.

 

"I am hopeful that today's meeting will result in the Air Force reversing their position.  In the meantime, I'll keep working with the Iowa delegation to press our case with the Air Force and the Pentagon."

 

Braley met yesterday with Iowa National Guard Adjutant General Timothy Orr and senior leaders of the Iowa Air National Guard to discuss the Air Force proposal.  Braley also sent a letter yesterday to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta expressing his concerns with the removal of F-16s from Des Moines.

 

# # #

Washington, DC - Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today urged Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to immediately reconsider an Air Force recommendation that would lead to the loss of all F-16 fighter aircraft operated by the Iowa Air National Guard in Des Moines.

21 jets at the 132nd Fighter Wing of the Iowa Air National Guard would be removed within two years under the plan, part of a larger effort to cut $8.7 billion from the Air Force budget.

"The Air Force gets an incredible value from the experienced pilots and maintenance personnel of the 132nd Fighter Wing," Braley said.  "That's why I'm disappointed that the Air Force has chosen to target one of the most cost-efficient units in their force to find savings.

 

"It doesn't make sense that the Iowa Air National Guard is on the chopping block while less efficient units and less experienced pilots are preserved as part of this plan.  How can you justify this decision when it's not in the best interest of our national security and not in the best interest of American taxpayers?"

 

Braley met earlier today with Iowa National Guard Adjutant General Timothy Orr and senior leaders of the Iowa Air National Guard to discuss the Air Force proposal.  Tomorrow, Braley will join the rest of the Iowa Congressional delegation for a meeting with Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley to discuss the removal of the jets.

Braley made the request in a letter to Secretary Panetta.  Text of the letter follows; a copy of the signed letter is attached.

--

 

February 8, 2012

 

Secretary Leon Panetta

Department of Defense

1000 Defense Pentagon

Washington, D.C. 20301

 

Dear Secretary Panetta,

I write with serious concern regarding the Air Force's recently clarified decisions on force restructuring and its impact on the Air National Guard.  The combat aircraft retirements and re-missioning discussed in the Air Force proposal unduly affect the Air National Guard over the Active Component, and do not reflect an effort to maintaining the Guard and Reserve or show a balanced approach to achieving budget efficiencies.

Mr. Secretary, you've stated yourself that the Guard and Reserve forces have proved their combat readiness and combat effectiveness over the past 10 years.  As decisions are made to reorient our force and drawdown our current combat commitments, we must work to maintain that readiness and effectiveness while also capitalizing on the wealth of knowledge and experience within our Guard and Reserve units to maintain the total force.  The Air Force proposal highlights the value of our Guard forces in associations with the active component while also removing a significant number of combat aircraft from them

Furthermore, I have serious concerns over the lack of budgetary consideration in the decision. While I applaud the Air Force's efforts to find budget efficiencies through the early retirement and delayed procurement of some aircraft, I have great concern that the bulk of retirements appear to come at the expense of Guard and Reserve units.  The Guard and Reserve are highly efficient forces, maintaining experienced pilots and performing many of the same missions of active component forces when activated at a much lower costs to the Active Component over the long-term. The shifts of combat aircraft to Active Component and elimination of missions in the Guard Component achieves significantly less savings than if the situation were reversed. Furthermore, the decisions to replace combat air force missions in the guard with unmanned aircraft Remote Split Operations missions also make little budgetary sense as there is a continued need for unmanned aircraft in Afghanistan and elsewhere. These missions will require a significant investment of time beyond the standard drill periods of many of our Guard that will have a higher cost and a greater impact on our Guardsmen's civilian careers.

I recognize that the funding constraints we currently face require difficult decisions to be made in prioritizing the roles and resources of all aspects of the Air Force. I am disappointed that faced with these challenges, the Air Force chose to target one of the most efficient aspects of their force in finding reductions.  This proposal is deeply flawed and deserves a full explanation of the budgetary analysis that went into making it.  I urge you to reconsider this decision to better protect the National Guard and support its long-term viability as part of the force.

Thank you for your consideration of this important issue.

 

Sincerely,

 

Bruce Braley

Member of Congress

 

Cc: Mr. Michael Donley, Secretary of the Air Force

 

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