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NGAUS E-Notes: July 24, 2009



July 24, 2009

Maj. Gen. Gus L. Hargett Jr., who served as the NGAUS board chairman from 2002 to 2004, will take over duties as association president on Jan. 1, 2010.

The adjutant general of Tennessee was selected at a meeting of the board of directors last weekend at the National Guard Memorial in Washington, D.C. He will follow retired Brig. Gen. Stephen M. Koper, who plans to retire from NGAUS at the end of the year after five years at the association's helm.

"We are honored and privileged to have General Hargett coming in to run our operations in Washington," said Maj. Gen. Tod Bunting, the board chairman. "General Hargett knows the Guard. He knows all the players in Congress and the Pentagon. And he knows how to get things done.

"He is the right leader at this time to build on our recent accomplishments in Washington."

Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen announced Wednesday in Nashville that Hargett, who has been the adjutant general for nearly seven years, will retire from the service on Dec. 31, ending a 47-year career in uniform.

Bredesen called Hargett "a trusted advisor to me and a true leader for Tennessee."

After the announcement, Hargett said, "Words cannot express the pride I have for the time I spent in the Tennessee National Guard. But I am looking forward to the opportunity to continue my service at NGAUS where it will be on behalf of the National Guard in all 54 states and territories."

Hargett enlisted in the Tennessee Army Guard in 1962 as an infantry soldier and served in a variety of staff and leadership positions in his home state, in the Pentagon and overseas. During Operation Desert Shield/Storm, he was chief of operations and exercises at the National Guard Bureau in Washington, D.C.

Hargett completed the Defense Language Institute and the U.S. Army War College and holds the distinction of being the first National Guard officer to attend the NATO Defense College in Rome, Italy.

He also has served on the Pentagon's Reserve Forces Policy Board and the Army Reserve Forces Policy Board.

Koper's tenure in Washington coincides with one of the association's most challenging and successful periods in history.

Among the legislative accomplishments are the increased stature of the National Guard Bureau headed by the Guard's first four-star general, billions of dollars in new equipment, more full-time manning, low-cost health insurance for all Guardsmen and a reduction in the age some Guardsmen can receive retirement pay.

Koper, a native of Ohio, also orchestrated the NGAUS fight that beat back some of the Air Force plans to ground a third of the Air Guard's flying wings in the Defense Department's recommendations to the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission.


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The Army has identified a particular population within its ranks that is more likely than others to attempt suicide.

Brig. Gen. Colleen McGuire, director of the Army's Suicide Prevention Task Force, released a statement recently that said, "Although suicide can impact anyone, we're finding that male soldiers in the combat-arms occupational specialties, between ages 18 and 27, are more vulnerable."

A ground-breaking study of behavioral health now being conducted by the Army may provide answers soon on what causes suicide and what programs can best prevent it.

"We are working at all levels currently to do everything we can to reverse this trend," said Peter Geren, the Army secretary.

He noted a five-year, $50 million study was launched last year in partnership with the National Institute of Mental Health, which may determine which programs and initiatives are most effective in battling the rising number of suicides.

"We hope at the end of this study, we'll be able to make a better connection between 'this worked, this didn't work,'" he said recently at the Pentagon.

Researchers plan to collect data from about 500,000 soldiers over time, including new recruits. They will study these individuals through the early stages of their careers in hopes of determining which individuals are predisposed to suicide and other mental health issues.

The idea of the study is to eventually understand pre-existing behaviors and factors that make soldiers vulnerable to suicide, in addition to forming "actionable" results, officials said.


The Defense Department has announced the recipients of the 2009 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, the highest recognition given by the U.S. government to employers for their support of their employees who serve in the National Guard and Reserve.

A record 3,200 Guard and Reserve members or their family members from across the country nominated their employers for the award. A national board comprised of senior defense officials and business leaders selected the recipients for this year's award.

The 15 employers who will receive the award are:

AeroDyn Wind Tunnel LLC, Mooresville, N.C.
AstraZeneca International, Wilmington, Del.
Fire Department of Cambridge, Mass.
Consolidated Electrical Distributors, Inc., North Charleston, S.C.
First Data Corporation, Greenwood Village, Colo.
FMC Technologies, Houston
Jackson Parish Sheriff's Department, Jonesboro, La.
Marks, O'Neil, O'Brien & Courtney, P.C., Wilmington, Del.
Microsoft Corporation, Redmond, Wash.
Mid America Kidney Stone Association, Kansas City, Mo.
NetJets, Woodbridge, N.J.
Ohio Department of Public Safety, Columbus, Ohio
Perpetual Technologies, Inc., Indianapolis
Santa Ana Police Department, Santa Ana, Calif.
TriWest Healthcare Alliance, Phoenix

The Freedom Award will be presented to the honored employers during a formal ceremony at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 17.


In 1995, NGAUS continued to present to Congress the need for its support prohibiting any further reduction in Army and Air National Guard full-time manning, including both military technicians and active Guard and Reserve personnel.

"This is the backbone of unit readiness," said retired Maj. Gen. Robert F. Ensslin Jr., NGAUS executive director.

Before the House military personnel subcommittee, Ensslin testified that the first priority was to stabilize the Army and Air Guard's force structure and end-strength numbers. He also outlined the cost-effectiveness and the combat readiness the nation received by the Air Guard maintaining higher primary aircraft authorized levels. Finally, he stressed the need for "sufficient resources to maintain training, readiness and operational capability."


July 22, 1954: Phenix City, Ala. --- Gov. Gordon Persons declares martial law in Russell County after a key witness in an upcoming grand jury inquiry is murdered to prevent his testimony about local corruption and vote fraud. About 150 Alabama Guardsmen, under the command of Maj. Gen. Walter Hanna, commander of the 31st Infantry Division, start moving into the city and surrounding areas to "clean up" what has been called the "most wicked city in the United States."

Phenix City has been known for years as a den of gambling, bootleg liquor and prostitutes, all aided by corrupt cops and other officials. Located just across the state line from Fort Benning, Ga., the city thrives on the soldier trade. After several failed attempts to clean up the situation, the killing of the witness is the last straw.

Hanna and his men replace the sheriff and deputies, while all the local judges are replaced by ones sent by the governor from outside areas. All the slot machines, roulette tables and other gambling equipment are destroyed, the prostitutes run out of the county and the corrupt officials jailed, fined or otherwise prevented from taking action.

The mission ends in January 1955. A determined general, backed by at least 300 Guardsmen, finally succeeds in cleaning up the "wicked city" once and for all.