Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Officer Professional Development: Why don’t we do it?

By Maj. John Lowe
J37 Joint Training Officer, Joint Forces Headquarters
December 20, 2011

During my deployment to Iraq as a battalion executive officer I held weekly officer professional development (OPD) sessions with the company executive officers. During the deployment all the subordinates units were active duty except for a USAR company.

What I found was that both components were just as bad as the National Guard when it came to making OPD part of the training schedule and then actually executing well thought-out, meaningful OPD. I also found that these young officers were truly hungry for mentoring and OPD that would help them in their current assignment and beyond. But more importantly I found them all groping for some way to become better men and women.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

What are the military ideals that shape your ethics?

By Maj. John Alderman
Commander, 124th MPAD
October 16, 2011
The commitment to ethics, the promulgation of values, and a culture of accountability all are central to our status as professionals. Last year, the Deputy Secretary of Defense published a memorandum on ethics that read in part
“To sustain an ethical culture that inspires public confidence, we must strive to faithfully fulfill our financial, civic, and ethical duties. Fundamental values like integrity, impartiality, fairness, and respect must drive our actions, and these values must be reinforced by holding ourselves and each other accountable for mistakes or wrongdoing.”
Official definitions of the ethics meant to inform our actions can be found in the Joint Ethics Regulation and further explored in the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch. But these documents really represent the formal distillation and refinement of ideas and ideals that come from…where?
The discussion of military ethics from the Oxford Companion to U.S. Military History posted here explores some of the history and development of the American military ideals that shape the way we look at ourselves, our organization, and our service to the Nation. It points out our shared ethical history with the British, and where we diverge. It also ably condenses some pretty broad thoughts on the matter.
It states in part that our ethics, mottos, and principles reflect “the earnest idealism that continues to animate the professional conduct of the men and women who don the military uniform to defend America.” Note that it’s the earnestness of that idealism that informs our generally optimistic can-do attitude we have when at our best. I expect it’s also one of the threads that can be followed all the way back through western military history to the Greeks.
There’s nothing earth-shattering here, but it is worth a read, just the same, to spur personal consideration of our profession’s ethics – because those ethics define us, really.
Furthermore, when we discuss ethics with our Soldiers and Airmen, we can’t shy away from their source. I don’t think we should shy away from our idealism, either. We should embrace it; and point out to them that the struggle between ideals and the complex ethical situations we sometimes face is a timeless one --- but one we must address head-on, and in good faith, anyway.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Responding to the Emerging Threat of Chinese Anti-Ship Ballistic Missiles in the Near-Space Environment

By Lt. Col. Wallace Steinbrecher,
170th Military Police Battalion Commander
March 1, 2011

The Chinese are preparing to operationally deploy a new variant of ballistic missiles specifically suited for U.S. aircraft carriers. This system can acquire, track, and engage at ranges greater than 1,000 miles.

In the near-term, the U.S. has existing technologies that can be quickly modified to counter this threat in the near-space (less than 60 miles in altitude) environment. In the long-term, developing technologies can be used to defeat this threat at all points during the flight envelope.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Realizing the three tenets of Strength Maintenance by focusing on two

By Col. Peter VanAmburgh,
Georgia Army National Guard Chief of Staff
September 22, 2004

The GAARNG has significantly improved its end-strength over the last eight years growing from 8700 to our current authorized strength of 11,100. This increase was the result of changes to our state's strength management philosophy, a transformation of the recruiting and retention force, and re-stationing of units to capitalize on demographics and spread capabilities across the state.

The below document outlines the theory-research-application, and implication of focusing the Recruiting and Retention force on quality accessions and orienting them through the Recruit Sustainment Program while leaving retention duties on the chain of command. This model, to include the recruit sustainment program, was replicated nationally. The philosophy, coupled with the GA Recruiting and Retention Battalion 3-Year Strategic Transformation Plan, have been credited with significantly influencing the entire ARNG's direction and subsequent turn-around from end-strength decline to growth.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Do you suffer from Decision Fatigue?

By Maj. John Alderman
Commander, 124th MPAD
August 18, 2011

It's an old adage in my family never to shop when you're hungry, because you'll always buy too much food. Likewise, as military leaders, we know that we should avoid making decisions when we're angry. Yet, making decisions when angry or stressed, even afraid or hungry, is just part of being a military leader.

This article from the New York Times by John Tierney addresses some of the science behind a particular kind of stress embedded in just making decisions. It's worth a read to help folks better understand when and how we should make decisions - and why "sleeping on it" is so often such a good idea. Here's an excerpt:

"Virtually no one has a gut-level sense of just how tiring it is to decide. Big decisions, small decisions, they all add up. Choosing what to have for breakfast, where to go on vacation, whom to hire, how much to spend — these all deplete willpower, and there’s no telltale symptom of when that willpower is low. It’s not like getting winded or hitting the wall during a marathon."

For more along these lines, see the Georgia Guardsman book review of Lt. Col. (ret.) Henry Thompson's The Stress Effect.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Lessons learned from the Afghan front

By Lt. Col. David Simons,
Director of Public Affairs, 165th Airlift Wing, Georgia Air National Guard
Published by the Savannah Morning News
August 5, 2011

On Dec. 31, 2010, I landed in Kabul, Afghanistan, to start a six-month tour as the Director of Public Affairs for the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan.

It was a valuable learning experience that taught me much and one that I hope not to repeat too soon.

There were good days, but the bad days were much more plentiful. The hours were long, the living conditions frightful and every drive was fraught with danger.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Keeping up to Speed on Current Events

By Maj. Tony Poole
Strategic Plans Officer
July 27, 2011

As leaders with too little time to accomplish everything we need to do, sometimes shortcuts can make a real difference in our daily routine. For my part, I know I need to keep up with major world events that could have impact on National Security - and having a little third-party analysis can be useful, too.

Civilian analyst agencies sometimes get this right based on open-source intelligence - but it can be pretty expensive. Sometimes we can get that service for free. One example is that provided by Kforce Government Solutions, Inc.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Tragedy reminds us to redouble suicide prevention efforts

By Maj. Gen. Maria L. Britt,
Commanding General of the Georgia Army National Guard
July 1, 2011

On 9 July 2009, Spc. Joey Roberts of the 935th Aviation, Intermediate Maintenance Detachment, was laid to rest. Specialist Roberts took his own life. Every loss is tragic, but a suicide is especially tragic. While nothing we can do will bring this Soldier back, we owe it to him and his family to learn from this tragedy.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

One Mission to Africa, Lessons for a Lifetime

By Col. Peter VanAmburgh,
Georgia Army National Guard Chief of Staff
Published in the Journal of International Peace Operations
May 1, 2011

The thought of African military engagements rarely invokes images of preparation for disaster relief or humanitarian operations. The effect that this type of operational training can have on participants, including local populations, is not widely recognized. Exercise Natural Fire 10, the largest humanitarian and disaster relief exercise conducted on African soil to date, is contributing to stronger and more robust disaster response capabilities and a better understanding of the local impact.

Natural Fire 10 involved moving National Guard and Reserve forces from the continental United States and Germany, along with representative forces from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania, to several sites in Uganda. The three-week mission aimed to build partner capacity and interoperability, but went much farther than its stated goals. It left all participants with key lessons for multinational operations and a deep appreciation for one another and the Ugandan people.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Improving the National Guard’s Capacity to Provide Defense Support to Civil Authorities

By Col. Colonel Thomas Carden
Commander, 560th Battlefield Subservience Brigade
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a Master of Strategic Studies Degree from the U.S. Army War College
August 8, 2008

On September 11, 2001, the National Guard started a no-notice transformation from a strategic reserve to an operational reserve. This transformation stretched the National Guard’s capacity to perform its role in homeland security and civil support. It is important to note that the National Guard is the only Department of Defense entity with responsibility to both the state and federal government.

The dual missions of the Guard have become the subject of extensive debate and controversy since 9/11. When Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana and Mississippi, the National Guard found itself fighting insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan while simultaneously providing much needed support to civil authorities in New Orleans and Mississippi. The extensive requirements associated with the Global War on Terror (GWOT), a pre-9/11 resourcing model, and the lack of clear civil support requirements create unacceptable vulnerabilities that require immediate action to improve the National Guard’s capacity to respond to provide support to civil authorities.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Reflecting on 15 years of partnership with the nation of Georgia

By Maj. Gen. William T. Nesbitt
Georgia’s Adjutant General
Published by the Marietta Patch
June 8, 2011

 The nation of Georgia is perhaps best known (if it is known at all) by those in the state of Georgia for its 2008 military conflict with Russia in South Ossetia or from the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, when Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili was tragically killed during a training run hours before the opening ceremony.

And while Tbilisi and Atlanta may be worlds apart, literally and figuratively, Citizen-Soldiers of both Georgia capitals have been working together for a decade and a half in a bilateral, military-to-military contact program known as the State Partnership Program.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Emergency preparedness starts at home

By Command Sgt. Maj. James Nelson, Jr.
Georgia Department of Defense
Published by the Marietta Patch
April 12, 2011

Despite the novelty and confusion of the winter storm that hit Georgia earlier this year, the National Guard lived up to its creed: Always ready, always there.

At the direction of GEMA, and while much of the state was frozen in its tracks, soldiers and airmen of the Georgia National Guard provided critical support to the Atlanta and North Georgia regions most impacted by the storm. This storm was an excellent example of how important emergency preparedness really is.

Due to the Guard’s readiness, we were able to quickly deploy humvees from several locations to transport staff members for two major hospitals. We were also able to provide humvees and drivers to assist Georgia State Patrol officers in their duties.