News You Can Use: Nov. 1, 2004

   November 1, 2004, Volume
2, Issue 22

Index of Articles

Note: Topics below are now bookmarked!
Click on the underlined topic below to link to the pages on that topic.



“Vigilant Guard” Focuses
On Homeland Defense

Guarding The Nation

Rhode Island EMA and
Governors’ Office to Conduct Statewide Meeting on State Readiness


National Guard Troops
Depart For Training In Iraq

Tiffin Guard Unit

National Guard Unit Deployed
To Iraq

Bravo Company of Ohio
National Guard to deploy Nov. 13

200 Guard Members Answer
Call To Duty, Soldiers Depart For Southwest Asia

Fighting From Home; How
the National Guard Serves Stateside


Stationed In Iraq With
Hearts At Fenway Park

Shipping Out: A Student
Veteran’s Account Of War


Teachers Trained On

Virginia National Guard Family Assistance Program Supports all Services


Lee Set To Visit Hawaii
Troops In Afghanistan

National Guard Honors
Rocklin Firm for Supporting Soldier

ALLTEL Shows Support of
Guardsmen and Reservists

Along With Prayers,
Families Send Armor

Sen. Pippy, Legislators
Discuss Military Absentee Ballots; Father of PA Army National Guard Member
Details Need for Voting Extension



National Guard Family
Program Online Communities for families and youth:



TRICARE website for information on health



Civilian Employment Information (CEI) Program Registration for
Army and Air National Guard, Air Force, and Coast Guard Reserve  (Note to those viewing this page in
Word or PDF format:
You may have to copy this address and
paste it into your browser’s address window.)



Cumulative roster of all
National Guard and Reserve who are currently on active duty



Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC)
contains links and information about schooling, distance education,
scholarships, and organizations devoted to the military family is a
website that helps military children with transition and deployment
issues.  It has some great features
for kids, parents, special needs families, school educators, and more—even
safe chat rooms for kids.



Disabled Soldiers Initiative (DS3)

This website provides information on the new DS3
program.  Through DS3, the Army
provides its most severely disabled Soldiers and their families with a system
of advocacy and follow-up.



Have an article,
announcement, or website that you’d like to share with the National Guard
Family Program Community?  Send your
suggestions in an e-mail to
[email protected].




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“Vigilant Guard” Focuses On Homeland Defense


Public Affairs Office

26 October

– In the months leading up to the national election, the Illinois National Guard has stepped up
homeland defense training and exercises in order to be ready on a moment’s
notice to respond to potential terrorist threats in Illinois aimed at
disrupting the electoral process. 
Called Vigilant Guard, the increased homeland security focus, began in
August and runs through the presidential inauguration early next year.  According to Lt. Gen. Steven Blum, chief
of the National Guard Bureau,
Vigilant Guard activities will be conducted in every U.S. state and territory
leading up to and through the election.

Over the
past few months, the Illinois National
has taken part in various statewide exercises as part of Vigilant
Guard.  In early August, the Joint
Operations Center went to 24-hour operations and conducted various
communication exercises throughout the state to test its capability to
coordinate with different local, state and federal agencies.  Also in August, the 5th Civil
Support Team of Bartonville took part in a major civil response exercise with
the City of Aurora as part of the City Emersion Program.

participation in homeland security initiatives since the terrorist attacks of
Sept. 11, 2001, have brought to the forefront more than ever before the
Guard’s vital role as the nation’s primary homeland security force.  Like the Minutemen of revolutionary times
Illinois Guardsmen responded at a moment’s notice when called upon to provide
enhanced security at Illinois commercial airports and help guard nuclear
power generating plants throughout the state.

“We are the
tip of the spear when it comes to homeland defense,” said Brig. Gen. Randal
Thomas, Adjutant General of the Illinois National

Although the
Illinois Guard has been a significant force contributor in support of
operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, the Guard remains ready to
provide support to conduct homeland defense operations here in the U.S.

currently have about 3,000 Illinois Army and Air National Guardsmen deployed all over the world, including Iraq
and Afghanistan,” Thomas said.  “That
represents less than 25 percent of our total strength.  The majority of our force, including the
Civil Support Team, Quick Reaction Force and CERFP element, is still in
Illinois we are ready to handle any domestic emergency that may arise.”




Guarding The

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Protection Professional

By Aaron
Keith Harris

The devastating terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001
jolted U.S. military, intelligence and public safety institutions to
reexamine their roles in defending the American homeland and, three years
later, many of them are still figuring out how to shoulder these additional
burdens without shorting their existing responsibilities.  No one is more familiar with that quandary
than Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum.
As chief of the National Guard Bureau,
Blum is charged with forming and carrying out a policy vision for the Army
and Air National Guard, which have
to play both “home” and “away” games in the war on terrorism. “After a period
of focusing on the war fight verseas for the last 100
years,” Blum says, the National Guard “finds itself moving
back to our roots, moving back to the future to become America’s 21st
century Minutemen and –women, turning from citizens to citizen soldiers and
airmen in a matter of moments to protect our liberties, freedoms, lives and
property right here in our homeland.”

With Blum’s
estimate that “40% of the Army’s boots on the ground in Iraq are Guard and
Reserve units,” the Guard will continue to play the critical role of
supplementing forces deployed around the world, but Blum is proud of the way
the Guard has adapted to homeland security missions, beginning on the morning
of 9-11.

According to
Blum, the National Guard had 8,600
citizen soldiers on the
streets of New York City and close to 400
armed aircraft patrolling
the skies of every population center in the United States within
24 hours of the first
attack. Blum also notes that the first external military  responders at the Pentagon were Virginia,
Maryland and Washington, D.C., Guard members.

“We are
working very hard to be ready for an unscheduled home game such as another
9-11,” Blum says of the
Guard’s efforts to use its structure and legal status to take on duties that
other branches of the military can’t.

 In most homeland security emergencies,
those duties are to advise and support local and state law enforcement and
other public safety personnel in managing the crisis and to serve as a
liaison between civil authorities and the Defense Department, which can offer
logistical and technical support and provide additional equipment. A Guard
unit, when activated by its governor, is uniquely allowed to fill just about
any homeland security role.

 (The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 prohibits
federal armed services from performing law enforcement work within the


WMD Civil
Support Teams

Its Weapons
of Mass Destruction Civil Support Teams perform one of the Guard’s main
homeland security duties. They are federally funded state National Guard units whose function
is to support local and state first responders in the event of a chemical,
biological, radiological or nuclear attack. “Primarily they’re a source of
information,” says Maj. Gen. Jerry W. Grizzle, commander of the Army National
Guard’s Joint Task Force Civil Support, which plans and  oordinates the Defense Department’s
response to a CBRNE

“They are
going to be on the scene first to determine what agent was used, so we know
what we need to bring to handle the situation,” Grizzle says.

Made up of 22 full-time soldiers and
airmen who are always on call, the WMD-CSTs can mobilize within three hours
of a request from a  state governor to
the Guard’s adjutant general. An advance team of seven to nine members is
always ready to move within
90 minutes.

there are
32 WMD-CSTs, with 12 more being created this
year and
11 scheduled for FY05.When the 23 new teams are active, each state and
territory will have a

When it
arrives on the scene as the first group of military responders, a
WMD-CST provides tactical support to the local civilian
incident commander, who should already be coordinating the activities of
local police, fire, hazmat and
EMS responders.

The WMD-CST then has a four-fold mission:

identify any
CBRNE agent,

assess the current and
potential consequences of its release,

advise the incident
commander on appropriate response actions, and

assist and expedite the
delivery of additional state or federal assets needed to combat the crisis.

A recent

The Virginia
National Guard’s
34th WMD-CST, based at Fort Pickett near Blackstone, Va., recently
had a chance to practice such a mission. As part of U.S. Northern Command’s
determined Promise ’
04 exercise, designed to test
 NORTHCOM’s ability to help
federal and state authorities deal with a
CBRNE event, the 34th responded
to a mock chemical weapons incident in Richmond, Va., on August

In the
simulation, terrorists tried to enter the main gate of a defense supply
center, but when guards blocked their truck, they drove into the parking lot
of a nearby elementary school, where they were confronted by a local police
officer. After a shootout in which the officer was injured, a bomb inside the
truck went off, releasing a cloud of sarin next to two trailers where
teachers were holding a conference and into a stiff breeze blowing toward a
residential area.

About an
hour and a half after the explosion, the
34th WMD-CST began its participation in
the exercise, with their commanding officer, Lt. Col. Colleen Chipper,
meeting with the incident commander.

welcomed the chance to take part in a multi-agency exercise like
DP04, because it allowed her team to work on perhaps the most
important part of its mission: supporting civilian responders. “We’ve found
that [incident commanders] may not know what we can do, so when we arrive on
the scene, we tell them what we can offer them.”

In DP04, Chipper says, the
incident commander was most interested in the
34th WMD-CST’s advanced detection equipment and its ability to use
computer modeling to estimate the spread and effect of the sarin.

donning Level A suits, one hour
SCBA and rebreathers with four
hour air supplies, two team members set off to the explosion site to find out
what, if anything, had been released. One walked ahead and the other followed
on a Gator all-terrain vehicle carrying the team’s detection equipment.

Cool tools

The WMD-CSTs are outfitted with
a comprehensive array of state-of-the art equipment to test for any kind of

The teams
also have kits to test the surrounding environment to gauge an agent’s
dispersal rate and range. After the tedious process of scouring the incident
site, the two survey team members brought the samples they collected back to
the team’s trailer, which features an analytical  aboratory system that Chipper says has nearly the same
capabilities as the most advanced state laboratory.

In addition
to the mobile lab, each
WMD-CST also has a communications
van with secure satellite phone and Internet capabilities that are on line
even when civilian systems are down. The communications systems allow team
members access to information and advice from other sources, such as
CDC and FEMA. They can also get a real-time weather picture from
airborne Air National Guard units, which supplements their computer modeling
in advising the incident commander what areas are likely to be affected by
WMD release.

The team
also has medical specialists, who can help local
EMS personnel treat

The 34th WMD-CST’s participation in the DP04 exercise went very well, Chipper says, with local
responders having a “very positive” reaction to what her team brought to the
table. “[Local responders] are able to detect some things, but sometimes they
don’t have the same level of technology that we have,” Chipper says, noting
WMD-CST team members have the time
to be fully trained on new equipment, a luxury local responders don’t always
have. Though
WMDCSTs may be better equipped and trained to analyze a CBRNE event, Chipper says DP04 helped her reassure Virginia’s civil authorities that
her team’s role is not to take control of the incident, but to support the
local incident commander, an important message that should make cooperation
and coordination easier in case of an actual event.

Other HS

In addition
to the
Blum says, “we’ve established a
Joint Force Headquarters in every state and territory that has a capability
to coordinate and control communications, information or intelligence, and
then be able to provide logistics support and … fully integrate any forces
that would come in from the federal government.” The state
JFHQs work with the
national Joint Force Headquarters Homeland Security in Norfolk, Va., which
co-ordinates both
DOD’s homeland defense efforts, which are responses to
external aggression, and its civil support contributions to local and state
governments and to other federal 
agencies like

DP04 really proved the worth of these JFHQs and the vital role or
the essential role that the Guard must play when it comes to homeland defense
and [civil] support,” Blum says.

the Guard recently established
12 regional CBRNE Enhanced Response Force Packages. When fully staffed,
have about
100 members trained to provide
emergency medical care to victims of a
CBRNE attack and to make sure
they’re decontaminated before being admitted into civilian hospitals.

The CERFPs also have
engineering units trained to extract victims from collapsed buildings, Blum
says. At presstime,
11 of the 12 teams had reached operational capability for the decon
and medical missions.

Blum has also
overseen the creation of Quick and Rapid Reaction Forces in each state ready
to respond to their governor’s call. The
QRF, a Guard spokesperson
explains, is a force of 75-125
personnel responding in four to eight hours of an
incident. The
RRF is a follow-on force of up
375 personnel arriving in 24-48 hours as dictated by the situation. Both types of
forces consist of personnel drawn from existing Guard units, so each
QRF or RRF member is essentially
wearing two hats.

“Calling up
a National Guard Reaction Force is
an efficient use of the military, as the Guard units are already deployed in
the state,” says the spokesperson.

“With the QRFs and the RRFs,” says Blum,” the
Guard is “starting to build a very formidable ability for the governors and
the National Guard to respond here
at home.”

continuing transition

“The Guard
has done a good job of adjusting to the mission within their resources,” says
James Jay Carafano, PH
.D., a defense and homeland security expert at the
conservative Heritage Foundation and the author of “Citizen Soldiers and
Homeland Security: A Strategic Assessment,” published by the Lexington
Institute in March. But, he notes, “we don’t have the right force structures
for the Guard to do good homeland response.”

According to
Carafano, the military’s restructuring efforts should include a National Guard with better trained
units with specific homeland security functions, a tough task given that the
Guard’s main duty is still to supplement overseas missions.

Blum agrees
that some changes need to be made to enable the Guard to better execute its
growing role in homeland security.

“The Guard
is not funded, not resourced and not equipped the way it should be, because
it’s being used as an operational force right now,” he says, “but it’s being resourced,
funded and equipped as a strategic reserve.” He notes that an operational
force with missions that include emergency response doesn’t have adequate
lead time in which to prepare.

With that reservation, Blum is
optimistic about the Guard’s ability to broaden its mission and defend
against tomorrow’s uncertainties by going back to its roots in homeland



Rhode Island EMA and Governors’ Office to Conduct
Statewide Meeting on State Readiness

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Rhode Island
Emergency Management Agency


October 24,

Cranston, RI
— Major General Reginald Centracchio, the Adjutant General of Rhode Island
and Director of the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA),
announced that on, Monday, 25 October, at 9:00 AM, the state will conduct a
seminar on the status of the state’s preparedness to deal with both natural
and man made disasters. The meeting will take place at the Newport Naval War
College, Newport, RI.

The meeting
will concentrate on state and local preparedness, Emergency Support
Functions, State Police and National Guard
assets. The meeting will also feature a Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)
update and the status of the RI National
’s Civil Support Team to respond to a WMD incident. Additionally,
the terror threat for the National election will be discussed. 

The media is invited to attend the
meeting. Both Governor Carcieri and Major General Centracchio will make
themselves available for interviews following the meeting.





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National Guard Troops Depart For Training
In Iraq



25 October

The Associated Press

 ANCHORAGE – A company of soldiers from
the Alaska National Guard has
departed for training in Texas before deployment to the war in Iraq early
next year.

Wearing desert camouflage, the riflemen
of Alpha Co., third Battalion, 297th Infantry had about two hours
Saturday morning to say goodbye to their families before loading onto a
chartered Boeing 757.

About half the soldiers are from
Southeast Alaska and the rest from Southcentral and Kodiak.

The 131 soldiers will train at Fort
Bliss, Texas, for several months along with members of the Hawaii National guard. Early next year, they
will depart Kuwait and then to Iraq for deployment.

Gen. Craig Christensen, head of the
Alaska Army National Guard, gave
the company an Alaska flag. He told them to bring the flag home safely and
bring themselves home alive.

Pfc. Mathew Nore is from Wrangell and
is majoring in education at the University of Alaska Anchorage. He will have to
pick up his studies when he gets back.

“At first I was kind of bummed out,
because I had a lot of plans for education and I was doing a lot of sports in
college too, so I was excited about that this semester, But I signed up for
the Guard first, before I went to college, so I’ve got to do this,” he told
the Alaska Public Radio Network.

Nore’s wife, Rachel, said she would be
praying for the soldiers.

“You just keep praying for them and
hopefully they stay safe. It’s just something they have to do.”

Christensen said soldiers will have
another chance to see their families before heading overseas during a holiday
break in December. Some soldiers plan to return to Alaska. Some will meet
their families in the Lower 48.

The company already had switched to desert
camouflage, with the Hawaii National
insignia on their shoulders, instead of the familiar Alaska flag.
When they get to Iraq, the unit will join one of the divisions already there
and will change patches again.




Tiffin Guard Unit Mobilized

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28 October

By Jefferson

Tiffin’s National Guard unit has been called
to active duty.

Company, 612th Engineer Battalion, 500 Riverside Drive, received
mobilization orders and will leave Tiffin Nov. 13 for further training at
Camp Atterbury Ind., said Maj. Nicole Gabriel, a spokeswoman for the National Guard in Columbus. The
unit’s ultimate destination and mission has not been released yet.

A skeleton
crew is on orders now, inventorying tools and equipment and getting ready to
go, said Capt. Jeff Gillmor, the unit commander. Equipment is being loaded on
semi trucks and taken to Camp Atterbury.

The rest of
the soldiers will be called in a few days before they leave, Gillmor said.

“Morale is
pretty high,” he said. A couple of solders are still working to get ready for
the deployment, but most are prepared already.

percent of the unit is on board, ready to go and champing at the bit to get
out of here,” Gillmor said.

There will
be a farewell ceremony for the soldiers at noon Nov. 12 at Heidelberg
College’s Seiberling Gymnasium, according to information from the college.

soldiers’ mother works at Heidelberg, and she worked with Gillmor and the
family support group president Virginia Bocanegra to set up the ceremony.

The family
support group has been holding meetings in anticipation of the deployment,
Bocanegra said. The group is composed of the families of the soldiers in the

The group
has had speakers from the American Red Cross, insurance officials and others
come in to help prepare the families and the soldiers for the deployment.

They will
continue to meet after the unit deploys, because the families can support
each other, she said.

The soldiers
are concerned about leaving their families behind, and the group hopes to
continue having support from the local area.

also can gather at 9 a.m. Nov. 13 on South Washington Street. To show their
support of the soldiers as they leave for Camp Atterbury.

The family
support group is asking people to come out and wave as the soldiers go by,
Bocanegra said.

“We can’t
just have the soldiers leave and nobody be there,” she said.

Company, 612th Engineer Battalion is comprised of combat engineers
and heavy equipment operators from Northwest Ohio. The unit’s primary
missions are mobility, counter mobility and survivability engineering.

This means
that the unit makes sure friendly troops can get where they are going to go,
and making sure the enemy can’t, Gillmor said.

means that the unit can build defensive positions, such as berms, using
earth-moving equipment, he said.



National Guard Unit Deployed To Iraq

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By the
Associated Press

October 25

 MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Nearly 250 family members
saluted the 171 men and women of the 1173rd National Guard Transportation Company on Monday at a ceremony
deploying them to Iraq.

Guardsmen leave Wednesday for Fort Dix, N.J., where they’ll train for one to
three months before flying overseas.

soldiers here have come together for a common cause,” Capt. Mike Waterman,
the company’s commander, told the crowd. “Our country called, and we have

They expect
to spend at least 18 months in Iraq driving supply convoys.

About 90
members of the 1710th Transportation Company—based in Bowling
Green and Manassas—have joined the western Virginia-based 1173rd.

“It’s not
easy for me to sign orders to send them away from here,” Maj. Gen. Claude
Williams, the Virginia Guard’s adjutant general, said during a speech Monday.
“(But) what we’re doing is right. We’ve got to take this war to the
evil-doers. That’s what you need to remember.”



Bravo Company of Ohio National Guard to
deploy Nov. 13

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Port Clinton
News Herald

October 30,

Company, 612th Engineer Battalion of the Ohio Army National Guard, of Tiffin, has
received mobilization orders and will be deploying overseas Nov. 13

College will host a farewell ceremony for the soldiers, their families and
the community at noon Friday, Nov. 12 in Seiberling gym. The community is
also organizing a send-off gathering for the soldiers, according to Capt.
Jeff Gillmor, company commander of Bravo Co. Well-wishers can gather at 9
a.m. Saturday, Nov. 13, on South Washington Street in Tiffin to show their
patriotism and support the unit as it deploys for overseas duty.

Although the
unit’s upcoming assignment was not available, Gillmor said the unit expects
to be deployed for about a year at a duty station outside the U.S. The unit
will first go to Indiana for additional training before flying to its final

Bravo Co.,
612th Engineer Battalion is comprised of combat engineers and
heavy equipment operators from northwest Ohio. Their primary missions are
mobility, counter-mobility and survivability engineering.

Bravo Co.,
612th Engineer Battalion has a long and distinguished history
since its beginnings in 1873. Since then, it has served in almost every major
conflict in defense of our country.

The unit was
designated Company B, 148th Infantry Regiment in 1916 and served
in World War I, World War II and the Korean War.




200 Guard Members Answer Call To Duty, Soldiers
Depart For Southwest Asia

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News Channel

29 October

KINGSTOWN, R.I. – A group of 200 Rhode Island National Guard soldiers gathered Friday at Quonset Air National Guard Base as they prepared
to depart in the largest single deployment in nearly two years.

Deploy 1st Battalion, 126th Aviation Regiment A group
of 200 Rhode Island National Guard
soldiers gathers at Quonset Air National
Base as they prepare to depart for duty in Southwest

The soldiers
from the 1st Battalion, 126th Aviation Regiment will
initially deploy to Fort Bragg, N.C., where they will train and prepare for
12 months of service in Southwest Asia.

It is the
biggest single-day deployment of Rhode Island National Guard members since Feb. 12, 2003, when more than 500
soldiers were deployed.

The regiment
flies the UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter and will be transporting personnel,
equipment and medical supplies throughout Southwest Asia.

They were
scheduled to leave Quonset in their eight Blackhawk helicopters after a
ceremony held Friday morning at the base for the soldiers to say goodbye to
family and friends.




Fighting From Home; How the National
Guard Serves Stateside

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1 November 2004

by Katie Ruark

While more than 2,500 Arizona National Guard soldiers and airmen
are fighting overseas, many remain here, protecting the country from home

Across Arizona, National Guard men and women work by supporting local emergency
response teams and providing security. They aid in state emergencies and
respond to important local events when called.

The National Guard provides security at the Hoover Dam and 10
airports across the country. They also have been sent to the Palo Verde
Nuclear Generating Station to increase security, and border stations to help
with inspections .

“There are approximately 7,000 men and
women statewide in the Arizona Air National
and Arizona Army National
,” said State Public Affairs Officer Major Eileen K. Bienz. “Of the
7,000, about 2,500 have been ordered to federal active duty in support of
Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Noble
Eagle. Of that number, there are currently about 650 deployed to Iraq and

Twenty-one soldiers from the
Phoenix-based 159th Finance Detachment were called to active duty
at the beginning of September to support the conflict in Iraq for up to 18

The president of the United States is
the commander-in-chief of the Arizona National
when the National Guard
is federalized. During peacetime, the commander-in-chief of the Arizona National Guard is the governor of
Arizona. The guard is called upon to assist Arizona citizens in times of
disaster, such as the Rodeo-Chediski Fire in 2002. Since Sept. 11, 2001,
there has been more emphasis on homeland security in the Guard.

The Arizona National Guard has always worked jointly with other agencies,
including law enforcement and emergency response teams. During the
deployments to the nation’s airports in Oct. 2001, they underwent training
from the Federal Aviation Administration and stayed there until they
transitioned into what is now known as the Transportation Security

“The morale amongst Guardsmen and women
is good,” Bienz said. “We continue to work hard to support our communities,
our state and our nation. We also work closely with our Family Support Groups
to take care of the families of deployed guard members.

All of us in the National Guard continue to say farewell and welcome home to our
soldiers and airmen who continue to be deployed to locations throughout the





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Stationed In Iraq With Hearts At Fenway Park


Press Herald

October 29,

Meredith Goad, Writer

soldiers serving in Iraq celebrated the Boston Red Sox World Series victory
over the St. Louis Cardinals in the same way they celebrated the team’s
trouncing of the New York Yankees in the playoffs – with a lot of happy

Yet the
jaw-dropping news was also bittersweet.

being a diehard Red Sox fan on the night that generations of Sox devotees
have waited for – and finding yourself thousands of miles from friends, family
and Fenway Park.

goodness, I can’t even believe it. It’s so surreal! I can’t believe I am in
Iraq for this!” Spc. Peter Morrison, 29, wrote in an e-mail from Mosul.

who is from Scarborough, is part of the Maine Army National Guard‘s 133rd Engineer Battalion, which was mobilized
last December. Soldiers of the 133rd have been a little distracted – and
sleepy – the past few days, rising in the wee hours every morning to watch
the Sox over the Armed Forces Network.

literally missed our start time for our convoy today because we couldn’t
leave the game,” Morrison said. “I have to continuously push the
elation out of my head to stay focused. I can hardly imagine the excitement
in New England.”

Spc. Chris
Mallett of Winslow was so happy after the game he ran into his boss’s room
and woke him up to tell him the Red Sox had – finally! – gone from cursed to

was also a sense of depression,” Mallett wrote in an e-mail from Mosul.
“I have known Spc. (Franz) Oberlerchner since second grade, and we both
were sitting here thinking what all of our friends were doing and what we
would be doing if we were at home and not in Iraq. But the fact that they won
the World Series overtook that feeling.”

Spc. Chad
Haskell of Augusta called Wednesday night’s game “the single greatest
sporting event ever.”

remember when I was 9 and Bucky (who cares) Dent hit the home run over the
monster,” he said. “That was my first Red Sox heartache.”

But this
year made that 1978 heartache, and all the ones that came after it, worth it,
Haskell said. He hasn’t really celebrated yet, but is making plans with some
friends for an instant replay of sorts when he comes home from Iraq.

“A few
guys and myself are going to go for a weekend trip to Boston when we get home
and find a pub that will let us play the tape of the final game, and then we
will let it out,” Haskell said. “It would be great if some of the
133rd and other deployed Maine soldiers could get to Fenway for Maine Day
next year.”

Maj. Dwaine
Drummond of Weeks Mills and four friends got up at 2 a.m. the day of the
final game and drove a half-hour to the Habour Gate Turkish border crossing,
the site of the closest satellite television hookup.

“I am
pleased to say I predicted Johnny Damon’s leadoff home run, but was
especially impressed by (Derek) Lowe’s (pitching) performance,” Drummond

He said it’s
been nice “sharing the moment” with Yankees fans in Iraq,
“although I think many are happy for the Sox (though they will probably
not admit it).”

Sgt. 1st
Class John Keene of Danville is a third-generation Sox fan. His grandfather
followed the careers of Jimmy Foxx and Babe Ruth, and his father is partial
to the players of the 1940s and ’50s, including Dom DiMaggio, Johnny Pesky
and, of course, Ted Williams.

Keene, 40,
remembers watching the Sox of the 1970s and ’80s.

“I am
very glad that at last the Red Sox have won a World Series in both my
father’s and my lifetime,” he said.

Keene said
Sox fans in Iraq talked about the team most of the day Thursday,
“remembering the former players who had passed away without seeing this
day.” They used the Internet to read news stories and see photographs of
the game, and e-mailed friends and family.

Of all the
soldiers, Master Sgt. Greg Madore of Saco had the best view of the championship
game. He watched it from his own comfortable chair, just after arriving home
on a 15-day leave.

celebrated the Sox victory with an ice-cold beer, then went to sleep.

“It was
a great way to end a couple long days of travel,” he said




Shipping Out: A Student Veteran’s Account
Of War

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1 November

by La Poasa

When Sgt.
David M. Stidham, 26, received word that his unit, the Army National Guard 2220th Transportation
Co. based in Flagstaff, was going to be deployed to Iraq, David was prepared
to do his part.

In February
2003, Stidham, an ASU political science junior, dropped out of his classes
and the Reserved Officers’ Training Corps at ASU to go to Iraq.

believed in what we were doing,” said David. “For me, it really
didn’t have much to do with the politics. It was my unit going, and they are
my family.”

A native of
Arizona, David spent about a year in Iraq, supporting the 5th Special Forces
Group, the 101st Airborne Division and the Polish-led Multi National

Born in
Payson, David began his career with the Army National Guard when he was 17, three years after moving from his
home in Arizona to Laughlin, Nev.

“I knew
what I was getting into (joining the military),” David said. “I was
willing to do it, and I also wanted to join early because I wanted to go to

David joined
the Army National Guard 1864th
Transportation Co. in Las Vegas, Nev. At the same time, David attended the
University of Nevada in Reno, majoring in secondary education. In 2002, David
moved back to Arizona after his father, Fred, a former middle and high school
teacher, got into a motorcycle accident.


David’s dad
was supportive of his son joining the military. “I always knew his
personality would find the military satisfying,” said Fred, noting
David’s athletic leadership as captain of the football, baseball and
basketball varsity teams at Laughlin High School. However, David’s mother,
Debbie, never liked the idea.

begged me not to join, but I told her that I was going to go no matter
what,” David said. “She worries a lot, and I try to make her feel
comfortable about it as much as possible.”

Later, when
David told his mother that he volunteered for an assignment in Egypt after
Sept. 11, 2001, she tried convincing him to stay. “She kept saying,
‘Don’t go, don’t go,'” David said. “She was very upset and took it
really hard.”

David said
he got the same reaction from his mother when he told her that he was heading
to Iraq.

Fred said
his son leaving for the war was a difficult concept to accept. “If they
would allow me to accompany my son, I would have gone and watched his
back,” Fred said. “I would have gone and protected him however way
I could.”

girlfriend, Louise Rene, who works in Phoenix, said she supported him leaving
for Iraq because it was what he wanted to do.

knew what his responsibilities were and felt strongly about going to the
war,” Rene said. “It was hard for me, but I wanted him to know that
I supported what he wanted to do.”

After two
weeks of training in Fort Bliss, Texas, David and his unit left for Kuwait on
March 26, 2003, a few days after the United States declared war on Iraq.


David got
his first experience of the war the next day when he arrived at Camp Arifjan
in Kuwait, after only four hours of sleep the night before. A Chinese Silk
Worm Missile, which is a low-flying surface-to-surface missile that was
launched from a civilian tugboat, hit near their location, he said.

the blast shook our stomachs,” David said.

He went on
to describe the feelings he felt the first time the soldiers received scud
missile launch warnings.

would hear sirens go off and we were freaking out because we thought chemical
weapons were coming out at us,” he said. “We were putting on
biological chemical gears, trusting the equipment to protect us. Later, when
we heard more scud missile attacks, we don’t worry about because it became

At home,
Fred and Debbie watched the TV news as much as they could. Like other
families with loved ones serving in the war, Fred and Debbie wrote letters
and sent boxes of food items to their son.

“I kept
reminding him, ‘Don’t let your guard down,'” Fred said.

David said
when his unit reached Iraq, it was different from when they were in Kuwait.
In addition to the flat desert and dusty streets, there were numerous
military helicopters flying over Iraq, David said. “As you cross in, you
see mud homes and there are kids without shoes on the streets, waving at you
and begging for food,” David said. “The soldiers didn’t care any
more why they were there, and that reason became clearer as we spent more
time there. We knew we had to help these people.”

But there
were also successful social programs in Iraq about education and health care
that benefited a good number of Iraqis. He said he met a few 19-year-old
Iraqis who were doctors and some with their educational degrees.

David said
one of the tragedies he witnessed was the barbaric tactics used by the enemy,
which included the use of civilian structures such as hospitals and schools
that often times were occupied by children.

At home,
David’s father said his biggest enemy was the telephone. “I hated the
phone because every time it rang, I think it might be someone from the
military telling me news about David,” Fred said. “You think of the
worst thing that could happen and hearing it on the phone. My heart would
race every time the phone rang.”

After six
months in Iraq, David and his unit were given a new assignment, which started
with the reconstruction phase of the war.

In one of
the postcards sent to his father, David wrote, “We are under the
impression that we might be coming home soon. I can’t wait for the day.
Missions here seem to be more and more difficult. I hope everything is going
good with you.”

Rene said
she felt happy and secure every time she received an e-mail from David, which
came once a day and sometimes every other day.

to get on the phone for him was hard because there was always a line and it
was expensive,” she said.

In early
March, rumors were spreading around camp that they might be coming home,
David said. When he and his unit went through numerous briefings and surveys
to prepare for their return home, David said he was still skeptical.

“We still
didn’t have a fly-out date,” said David. “It wasn’t until two days
before we left Iraq that we knew we were leaving for Kuwait and heading

new perspective

David and
his unit returned to Phoenix in April. He said his company traveled hundreds
of miles and accomplished several missions without anyone getting serious

David, who
is now taking a break from ASU for a semester, said his experience in Iraq
has made him support President George Bush more than before. He said the war
on terrorism is one of the top issues in the upcoming elections for him
because if our homeland is not safe and secure, all other issues like the
economy would be greatly affected in a negative way.

agree with President Bush when he said that ‘you can’t trust our security in
the hands of a madman,'” David said. “After Sept. 11, we learned
that we can’t wait for an attack to happen and I support Bush because of his
strong lead for our country to be safe and secure from terrorists.”

David said
with the presidential election drawing near, he would like to see more
students get involved in discussions about the war in Iraq with classmates
and friends who actually went there.

should find out what the soldiers saw and experienced while in Iraq,”
David said. “Everybody is going to have a different story, and it’s not
what the media is portraying. Hopefully, that’ll provide them with an idea
about the war which they can then compare with the candidates’ policies and
where they stand on the issue.”





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Teachers Trained On Deployment


 The Courier News

28 October

By Lori Kamerling

Child Development, Inc.’s preschool teachers got a lesson in caring for the
children of deployed soldiers during regularly scheduled teacher training
this month at All Saints Episcopal Church. Bambi George, youth development
coordinator for the U.S. Army National
, told the group of educators — Head Start, Early Head Start and
Arkansas Better Chance teachers — that they are prepared to deal with the
situation because these programs already focus on the family-parent-child

former Head Start child and Head Start center director, George began her
discussion praising the work that Head Start does for low-income families and
reassuring the teachers that they are well-equipped for the task.

Serve Too: How School Personnel can Help Students During Deployment”
addressed several topics including a definition of deployment, emotional
issues and the stages of deployment.

soldier can be called at 8 in the morning and told he is going to be
deployed. Paperwork is being done by 10 and he or she is gone by 1 in the
afternoon sometimes,” George said, explaining how quickly the process can
happen. Deployment, she said, is defined as military assignments in which
family members may not accompany the soldier. She added that it doesn’t have
to be overseas to be considered deployment, and any emotional issues begin
when the soldier gets the call.

military, she said, gives three stages of deployment — pre-deployment,
deployment and reunion — but she added another stage, pre-reunion. That’s the
stage she’s is in now, George explained. George’s husband has been deployed
for several months. She cares for the family’s four children.

at the stage where I wake up every morning at 4 and wonder if I’ve done
everything I need to do before he gets back,” she said. “The kids want to
make sure their rooms are clean before Daddy gets home.”

she said, are a joyful time but are extremely stressful and can sometimes be
more difficult than the deployment. A typical deployment can last from 18
months to two years and in that time, the family has learned to function
without the deployed parent, and everyone has grown and changed.

you have a 2-year-old in Early Head Start and Dad is deployed for two years,
the child is 4 years old when he returns,” she said. “Those are critical
years for growth and development.”

and educators play an important role in supporting the children of the
deployed soldier, George added. Teachers, especially preschool teachers, may
be the only consistent adults in the children’s lives.

encouraged teachers to allow quality time with the parent before deployment,
so a few days away from school or the child care center should be tolerated.
She added that teachers should expect unusual behavior in their young
charges. Toddlers may become angry with their remaining parent. Some young
children may be afraid of everything. Preschoolers, George said, are the best
at coping with change that occurs in families of deployed soldiers.

are already dealing with so many changes going on in their bodies and their
minds that they have learned to cope with change,” she said.

children may be flippant or “mouthy.” Teen-agers may feel the need to
volunteer heavily or become politically active. Most teen-agers don’t like to
talk about the situation, she said. College-age children may become
politically active as well.

children may not talk about the situation, so teachers should encourage them
to draw to express their feelings.

tips she gave include: finding a project for the entire class to do to send
the deployed soldier, such as a scrapbook or a photo project; e-mailing the
deployed soldier photos or drawings of the child and reporting on their
progress; supporting the remaining spouse through talking and “patting them
on the back;” and letting the deployed soldier know that the teachers are
supporting the family and the children until their return.
“The smallest gesture of kindness is appreciated,” George said.

said that part of her job connecting families with needed resources. Military
One Source has been great starting place for such needs. She said the
organization gives free counseling sessions to families during any stage of
deployment. Family Assistance Centers make referrals for families in need, as

hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life was to help children realize
that their Dad or Mom wasn’t coming home,” George said. She found the book
“When Someone Dies” to be helpful in the situation. Since December when she
took the job, George said that she’s had to help 13 children this way. She’s
also found other resources for these children and has made a few of her own.
However, she said, there aren’t many children’s books on the subject.

encouraged parents and teachers to monitor media exposure to young children
because of the some of the graphic photos that have appeared with front page
stories and on the broadcast news. She said for parents to reassure their
children that if their father or mother has been killed, they will be
notified within 24 to 48 hours “with a knock on the door and a man in uniform
to tell them.”

don’t understand that the same incident will be played over and over on the
news and that they are not separate incidents,” she said. “My children found
out about the first fatality through a newsbreak during cartoons.” She said
children should be reassured that unless a uniformed soldier tells them
differently, their parent is fine.

also encouraged teachers to be on the lookout for unusual behaviors that are
threatening to the children themselves or other children or family members,
and for possible abuse or neglect by the remaining parent. She cited an
incident in which a child refused to eat. Later, it was learned that the
child’s mother told him that if he didn’t eat, his father could come home.
George stressed that this situation is rare, but it does occur. Should these
occur, she suggested contacting the appropriate authorities.



National Guard Family Assistance Program Supports all Services

to Table of Contents


For Immediate Release

October 25,

By Capt. Colin S. Noyes

BLACKSTONE, Va. – The Global War on
Terrorism is placing a strain on people across communities throughout the
commonwealth.  That is especially true of the families of our service
members.  Just because a service member’s family member or friend is not
deployed to some strange place on the other side of the world does not mean
they don’t experience uncertainty, fear, or emotional strain.  The
people who remain at home have “duties and responsibilities” that
must be met just as those Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors, and Marines that are
sent to answer freedom’s call.  Homes must be maintained, checkbooks
must be balanced, and children must be raised.  These responsibilities
and requirements don’t stop because someone is ordered to active federal
service or deployed from where they are normally stationed to a foreign
land.  Maybe those left at home are not accustomed to dealing with home
repairs, legal issues, filing taxes, or the pressures of being “home
alone.”  The Virginia National Guard has a program in place
to serve as an outreach to those who must carry on the day to day activities
while their loved ones are deployed.  That outreach program is supported
by Family Assistance Centers located throughout Virginia.  The program
is headquartered at the Joint Force Headquarters – Virginia located at Ft.
Pickett, Va.

 The primary mission of the Family
Assistance Center program is to reach out to and support families of
mobilizing and deploying Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors, and Marines.  The
Family Assistance Center provides a wide range of services, support, and
referral designed to address the wide range of day-to-day issues encountered
by family members affected by mobilization.  The intent of the Family
Assistance Center is to provide support and referral services to these
families as close to their hometown or residence as possible.  In
addition to providing responsive and personal support to family members this
program also reduces the impact of responding to family requirements on
mobilization installations which must focus resources on supporting the
mobilization effort and installation security.  The Family Assistance
Center is designed to, as much as possible, relieve the service member of
concern about issues impacting on those at home so he or she can focus on
accomplishing the mission at hand and returning home safely.

The Family Assistance Center outreach
in Virginia has had a significant impact on families affected by
mobilizations and deployments.  So far this year the Virginia National
26 Family Assistance Centers located in communities throughout
the commonwealth have responded to over 5,751 family members (33 Army, 5,614
Army National Guard, 25 Army Reserve, 6 Air Force, 1 Air Guard, 44 Navy, 13
Navy Reserve, 13 Marine Corps, 1 Marine Corps Reserve, and 7 Coast
Guard).  These centers have received over 10,995 phone calls and 11,108

The spouse or family member of a
deployed service member has access to many resources to answer questions on
day-to-day problems and issues.  Service members and their families can
reach the Virginia National Guard Family Assistance Center in their
area by contacting:



Force Headquarters – Ft Pickett, Blackstone



434-292-2696, ext 21

Bowling Green, Ft A. P. Hill


Bowling Green, Ft A. P. Hill


Cedar Bluff




Gate City / Pennington Gap



757-455-0827, ext 22




434-582-5167, ext 13




























540-332-8916, ext 32

Virginia Beach


West Point



In addition to the Virginia National
Family Assistance Centers there are other groups and agencies ready
to help our service members and their families.  Some of these agencies

The American Legion’s Family Support Network. 
According to the agency’s website help available to families include grocery
shopping, childcare, lawn care, fixing the family car, and countless other
challenges to a military spouse.  Family members simply call toll
free:  1-800-504-4098 or e-mail
[email protected].

Veterans of Foreign Wars. 
According to the agency’s website the VFW’s Military Assistance Program (MAP)
is a quality of life initiative that focuses on easing the financial emergencies
of deploying service members and supporting them and their families through
the hardships of deployment.  For more information see the VFW’s website

American Red Cross.  The American
Red Cross keeps service members in touch with their families following the
death or serious illness of a family member or other important events, such
as the birth of a child.  For more information contact the American Red
Cross as or 1-877-272-7337.

Army One Source is a fairly new asset
to families and Soldiers alike.  Army One Source is designed to help
families deal with life’s issues.  Army One Source is available 24 hours
a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.   

Army One Source can be accessed by
logging on at  Logon “Army” and
password is “OneSource.”  Army One Source can also be accessed
at 1-800-464-8107, outside the US 484-530-5889, TTY/TDD 800-346-9188,
Espanola 1-800-375-5971.

For more information contact your local
Virginia National Guard Family Assistance Center or Capt. Colin Noyes at

For Additional Information

Lieutenant Colonel, Va. Army National Guard
Public Affairs Officer
Commercial: 434.298.6107 DSN 438.6107
Fax: 434.298.6303 DSN 438.6303
Cell: 434.294.1477
e-mail: [email protected]
Virginia National Guard Web Site:





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Lee Set To Visit Hawaii Troops In Afghanistan


 The Associated Press

25, 2004

By B.J.
Reyes, Associated Press Writer

State Adjutant Gen. Robert G.F. Lee plans to travel to Afghanistan to
see how Hawaii guardsmen deployed there are doing and to boost morale,
officials confirmed Monday.

confirmed his plans in a message left with The Associated Press.

Maj. Charles
Anthony, a spokesman for the state Defense Department, said Monday that Lee’s
visit would occur in the next few months. The exact date was being kept
confidential for security reasons, he said.

It would be
Lee’s second visit to troops in Afghanistan. He also visited with Hawaii
soldiers there in December 2003.

About 60
members of the Hawaii Army National
‘s Bravo Company, 193rd Aviation Division from Wheeler Army Airfield
are currently deployed in Afghanistan.

members of two other Guard units – the 117th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
and the 298th Engineer Detachment – were notified Friday of plans to send
them to the Middle East on an 18-month deployment beginning in January. Their
exact location has not yet been determined, but some guard members have said
they expect to be sent to Afghanistan.

Anthony said
it was too early to determine whether Lee also would visit about 2,500
members of the Hawaii Army National
‘s 29th Infantry Brigade (Separate) scheduled to arrive in Iraq by
February or March. About 600 members of the Hawaii Guard and Hawaii Reserves
already are on duty in Iraq.

In addition
to the Guard and Reserves, about 10,500 soldiers from the Army’s 25th
Infantry Division (Light) based at Schofield Barracks on Oahu also are
serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

To date, 23
soldiers with notable Hawaii ties have been killed in the Middle East since
the March 2003 start of the war in Iraq. Sixteen soldiers have died in Iraq,
six in Afghanistan and one in Kuwait.

All six
casualties in Afghanistan and nine of those in Iraq have been soldiers
assigned to the 25th Infantry Division.

As adjutant
general, Lee serves as director for the state Department of Defense, which
includes the Hawaii National Guard.
He supervises Hawaii’s armed forces, maintains the readiness of the Hawaii National Guard for state and federal
active duty and coordinates civil defense activities.



National Guard Honors Rocklin Firm for
Supporting Soldier

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ABC News10

27 October

Being called
to active duty often puts a heavy burden on a military family. That burden
can be worse when employers are not sympathetic. So, when a company goes out
of its way to support to a worker deployed by the National Guard, the Guard likes to say thanks.

The National Guard honored Fillner
Construction with the Guard’s Patriotic Employer Award for its support of
Staff Sergeant Erick Fleming, who has been called to active service. “I
believe very strongly in what they do and the sacrifices they make for the
rest of us,” said company president Steve Welge.

The company
continues to pay Fleming, which it is not required to do, and offers to step
in if the family needs help. “I can deal with the money part of it, but
fixing the roof and things like that, I don’t think so!” said Fleming’s
wife Gina.

The Rocklin-based
construction company builds light industrial buildings such as service

Fleming is
currently at Camp Roberts and is about to be deployed to Fort Irwin, outside
of Barstow. After that, his family doesn’t know where he will go, but expect
him to be gone 18 months.




ALLTEL Shows Support of Guardsmen and

of Support Signing on Thursday

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Immediate Release

27 October 2004                                          

Neb. (Oct. 27, 2004) – ALLTEL will sign an official Statement of Support for
the National Guard and Reserve at
a ceremony at its regional headquarters on 1440 M St. in Lincoln, Neb. The
ceremony will take place at 3 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 28. ALLTEL will formally
show its support in keeping a strong national defense through the nation’s
Reserve component.

Hedrick, vice president of Nebraska operations, will sign the Statement. ESGR
State Chairman Arlo Bower will preside over the ceremony.

Statement of Support is issued by the Employer Support of the Guard and
Reserve (ESGR), an agency of the Department of Defense. ESGR promotes
cooperation and understanding between Reserve component members and civilian

support shows their commitment to employees and community members who serve
voluntarily in the National Guard
and Reserve,” said Nebraska ESGR Chairman Arlo Bower. “They are true patriots
who understand the importance of supporting our military personnel as they
defend our freedom, both at home and abroad.”

customer-focused communications company with more than 13 million customers
and $8 billion in annual revenues. The company provides wireless, local
telephone, long-distance, Internet and high-speed data services to
residential and business customers in 26 states. It employs more than 1,300
people in Nebraska, Iowa and Kansas. The regional headquarters is in Lincoln,

The ESGR, an
agency of the Department of Defense, was established in 1972 to promote
cooperation and understanding between Reserve component members and civilian
employers through a network of 60 Nebraska volunteers and 4,200 national
volunteers in 55 state and local ESGR Committees. For more information on
ESGR, visit




Along With Prayers, Families Send Armor

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New York Times

October 30, 2004

By Neela Banerjee and John Kifner

When the 1544th Transportation Company
of the Illinois National Guard was
preparing to leave for Iraq in February, relatives of the soldiers offered to
pay to weld steel plates on the unit’s trucks to protect against roadside
bombs. The Army told them not to, because it would provide better protection
in Iraq, relatives said.

Seven months later, many of the
company’s trucks still have no armor, soldiers and relatives said, despite
running some of the most dangerous missions in Iraq and incurring the highest
rate of injuries and deaths among the Illinois units deployed there.

“This problem is very
extensive,” said Paul Rieckhoff, a former infantry platoon leader with
the Florida National Guard in Iraq
who now runs an organization called Operation Truth, an advocacy group for
soldiers and veterans.

Though soldiers of all types have
complained about equipment in Iraq, part-timers in the National Guard and Reserve say that they have a particular
disadvantage because they start off with outdated or insufficient gear. They
have been deployed with faulty radios, unreliable trucks and, most alarmingly
for many, a shortage of soundly armored vehicles in a land regularly
convulsed by roadside attacks, according to soldiers, relatives and outside
military experts.

After many complaints when the violence
in Iraq accelerated late last year, the military acknowledged there had been
shortages, in part because of the rapid deployments. But the Army contends
that it has moved quickly to get better equipment to Iraq over the last year.

“War is a come-as-you-are
party,” said Lt. Gen. C. V. Christianson, the Army’s deputy chief of
staff for logistics, in an interview yesterday. “The way a unit was
resourced when someone rang the bell is the way it showed up.

“As we saw this become a more
enduring commitment, those in the next rotation had full protective gear,
like the newest body armor,” he said. General Christianson acknowledged,
however, that more work needed to be done to protect vehicles in particular
and that broader changes were needed so that the Army and Reserve would be
better prepared in the future.

Not all National Guard units are complaining about their equipment. The
soldiers in Company C of the Arkansas Army National Guard‘s First Battalion, 153rd Infantry Regiment, have
operated in one of the riskiest parts of Baghdad since they arrived in April.

Capt. Thomas J. Foley, 29, the company
commander, and his soldiers bragged in recent interviews that their
equipment, from Bradley fighting vehicles to armored personnel carriers, was
on par or better than what many regular Army units in Iraq now have.

The improvements are of little solace
to many soldiers’ families. Progress has been made, but it has been slow and
inconsistent, soldiers, families and other military observers said. When 18
reservists in Iraq refused an order to deliver fuel on Oct. 13, they cited
the poor condition of their trucks and the lack of armed escorts in a
particularly dangerous area.

Families Buy Equipment

Before the 103rd Armor Regiment of the
Pennsylvania National Guard left
in late February, some relatives bought those soldiers new body armor to
supplant the Vietnam-era flak jackets that had been issued. The mother of
Sgt. Sherwood Baker, a member of the regiment who was killed in April, bought
a global positioning device after being told that the Army said his truck
should have one but would not supply it.

And before Karma Kumlin’s husband left
with his Minnesota National Guard
unit in February, the soldiers spent about $200 each on radios that they say
have turned out to be more reliable – although less secure – than the Army’s.
Only recently, Ms. Kumlin said, has her husband gotten a metal shield for the
gunner’s turret he regularly mans, after months of asking.

“This just points to an extreme
lack of planning ,” said Ms. Kumlin, who is 31 and a student. “My
husband is part of the second wave that went to Iraq.”

Critics who say that disparities and
shortages persist fault the Pentagon for incorrectly assuming that American
troops would return home quickly after the war. As a result, they say, little
was done to equip and train the thousands of National Guard and Reserve soldiers who were called to serve in
Iraq and who now make up 40 percent of American troops there.

“I am really surprised that
planners relied on the best-case military scenario,” said Jonathon
Turley, a military historian at George Washington University Law School who
wrote last year about shortages of body armor. He was then deluged with
e-mail messages from soldiers complaining of such shortages, 90 percent of
them from the National Guard and

Military officials strongly dispute
assertions that reservists and National
troops have training and equipment inferior to that of the regular
Army. “The resourcing and equipping of the National Guard today is indistinguishable from that of active
duty soldiers,” said Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum. “In no time in history
have soldiers gone to battle as well equipped as they have gone into

Structured like the regular Army, the National Guard functions as a state
militia, typically called out for natural disasters or civil disorder. The
Reserve, in contrast, is largely composed of support elements like civil
affairs, the military police and supply. Both groups train one weekend a
month and two weeks in the summer. The rest of the military does not consider
them as well trained, well equipped or well led as the standing Army, and
many of these part-time soldiers are also older.

Reliance on Reserves

Under a reorganization of the military
after the Vietnam War, support functions were passed from the Army to the
Reserve. Historians say the idea was to protect the Army from being sent into
another unpopular war because widespread support would be needed to call up
the reserves.

In his biography of Gen. Creighton
Abrams, “Thunderbolt” (Simon & Schuster, 1992), Lewis Sorley
wrote than General Abrams built into the restructuring “a reliance on
reserves such that the force could not function without them, and hence could
not be deployed without calling them up.”

The reliance on the Reserve and National Guard also increased with
the shrinking of the active military from roughly 2.1 million at the end of
the Persian Gulf war to some 1.4 million today. But for years, under what is
called the Tiered Resourcing System, new equipment went to those most likely
to need it – the active Army – while the Reserve and the Guard got the hand-me-downs.

“In addition to personnel
shortfalls, most Army Guard units are not provided all the equipment they
need for their wartime requirements,” said Janet A. St. Laurent of the
General Accounting Office in testimony before Congress in April. Ms. St.
Laurent noted that many Guard units had radios so old that they could not
communicate with newer ones, and trucks so old that the Army lacked spare
parts for them.

Army officials concede that the old
approach to training and equipping the Guard and Reserve did not prepare them
for the new realities of Iraq. Progress appears to have been made in
providing modern body armor and some other equipment, families and soldiers

The Army says it is on schedule to
armor all its Humvees in Iraq by April 2005, despite the fact that only one
factory in the United States puts armor on the vehicles. Moreover, the Guard
is developing a plan to heighten the training and preparedness of its
soldiers, under which a given unit could expect to be deployed every six years.

But the glaring problem for soldiers
and families remains the vulnerability of trucks. In a conventional war there
would be a fixed front line and no need for supply trucks to be armored. But
in Iraq, there are no clear front lines, and slow-moving truck convoys are
prime targets for roadside attacks.

Gen. James E. Chambers, the commander
of the 13th Corps Support Command, to which the recalcitrant soldiers who
refused the assignment are attached, told a news conference in Baghdad:
“In Jim Chambers’ s opinion, the most dangerous job in Iraq is driving a
truck. It’s not if, but when, they will be attacked.”

Of the Illinois National Guard units now in Iraq, none of the 11 units has
suffered as many casualties as the 1544th Transportation Company. Of the
approximately 170 men and women in the unit, 5 have been killed and 32
wounded since the unit arrived in Iraq in March and began delivering supplies
and mail and providing armed escort to civilian convoys. Three of the
soldiers died during mortar attacks on their base south of Baghdad. The other
two were killed when roadside bombs exploded next to their unarmored trucks.
Soldiers’ relatives said that they expected the Army to outfit the trucks
better than they themselves could have, after being told by the military that
the steel plates proposed by the families would shatter if hit.

But in fact, most of the trucks in the
unit have nothing more than the steel plates that the families offered to
have installed in the first place, said Lt. Col. Alicia Tate-Nadeau, a
spokeswoman for the Illinois Guard.

3 Meanings of Armored

The Army considers the 1544th’s
vehicles armored, a word that has a broad and loose meaning in the Iraq
conflict. There are three categories of armored vehicles, Colonel Tate-Nadeau
said. The “up-armored” ones come that way from the factory and
provide the best protection for soldiers. Then come vehicles outfitted with
“armor kits,” or prefabricated pieces, on the chassis. The last
option consists of “whatever the soldiers try to do themselves, from
large sheets of metal on their trucks to sandbags on the floor of the
cab,” Colonel Tate-Nadeau said.

“If we’re one of the richest
nations in the world, our soldiers shouldn’t be sent out looking like the
Beverly Hillbillies,” said the mother of one soldier in the unit, who,
like many parents, asked not to be identified for fear of repercussions for
their children.

According to figures compiled by the
House Armed Services Committee and previously reported in The Seattle Times,
there are plans to produce armor kits for at least 2,806 medium-weight
trucks, but as of Sept. 17, only 385 of the kits had been produced and sent
to Iraq. Armor kits were also planned for at least 1,600 heavyweight trucks,
but as of mid-September just 446 of these kits were in Iraq. The Army is also
looking into developing ways to armor truck cabs quickly, and has ordered 700
armored Humvees with special weapons platforms to protect convoys.

Specialist Benjamin Isenberg, 27, of
the Oregon National Guard, died on
Sept. 13 when he drove his unarmored Humvee over a homemade bomb, the
principal weapon of the insurgents, said his grandmother, Beverly Isenberg of
McArthur, Calif. The incident occurred near Taji, the town north of Baghdad
where the 18 reservists refused to make a second trip with fuel that they say
had been rejected as contaminated.

“One of the soldiers in his unit
said they go by the same routes and at the same times every day,” said
Mrs. Isenberg, whose husband is a retired Army officer and who has two sons
in the military and another grandson in the Special Forces who was wounded in
Iraq. “They were just sitting ducks in an unarmored Humvee.”





Sen. Pippy, Legislators Discuss Military Absentee
Ballots; Father of PA Army National Guard Member Details Need for Voting Extension

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PR NewsWire

29 October

Pa., Oct. 29 /PRNewswire/ — When called to duty, Pennsylvania Army National Guard PFC Naomi Bondy of
Bridgeville put aside her studies at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and
headed off to serve in Iraq.

because of her service PFC Bondy won’t have a chance to vote in the upcoming
election as it stands now because she will be unable to return her absentee
ballot by November 2.

unfair that the voices of many Pennsylvania men and women in uniform like PFC
Bondy will not be heard in this upcoming election,” Senator John Pippy
(R-37) said. “The men and women of the U.S. military who serve us daily
in harm’s way deserve to have their votes counted.”

 PFC Bondy’s father, Frank Bondy of
Bridgeville, joined Senators Pippy and Jane Clare Orie, state Representatives
Mark Mustio, Thomas Stevenson and Mike Turzai, U.S. Senator Rick Santorum,
U.S. Representatives Melissa Hart and Tim Murphy and other officials at a
press conference Friday to again call upon Governor Rendell to support a
two-week extension for absentee ballots from military members serving

 Frank Bondy recently contacted Senator
Pippy about his daughter’s case, which started when she left Indiana
University earlier this month en route to Baghdad, where she is now serving
on temporary duty with Company A, 13th Signal Battalion.

 Mr. Bondy said he received his daughter’s
absentee ballot in Bridgeville on October 26 and immediately forwarded it to
her APO address. However, unless the balloting extension is granted, PFC
Bondy – a registered Allegheny County voter – will be disenfranchised.

 Senator Pippy and a number of federal,
state and local officials continue to urge Governor Ed Rendell to stop his
opposition of the U.S. Justice Department’s suit to give military and
overseas voters extra time to return their absentee ballots.

“At the
very least, we should take the imminently reasonable step of extending a
deadline by two weeks in order to ensure that our fellow citizens now serving
in uniform like PFC Bondy can participate in this election and enjoy one of
the most basic rights of citizenship,” Senator Pippy said.

Pennsylvania Senate Republican Communications


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