- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 19, 2007

Two responsibilities, one Guard The article “A voice for the Guard” (Commentary, Sunday) was a wonderful commentary on our country’s brave men and women serving in the Army and Air National Guard.

As the author points out, the Guard has been our first line of defense since Colonial days. The volunteers of the Guard are often the very first to be called in for duty, and as we see today with conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Guard is always eager to respond.

What the Guard does for the men and women who enlist is invaluable. Much like the other services, the Guard teaches the value of discipline and organization and I’m not surprised I’ve met so many successful business and political leaders whose pedigree is service to our country via the Guard.

At 60 Plus, we’re especially proud that our national spokesman, legendary entertainer Pat Boone, saw fit to honor the Guard by writing and singing “For my Country,” a special tribute to our Guard citizen soldiers, and has also made a new DVD music video and CD single available by the same title. A major portion of the proceeds from the sale of the DVD and CD goes to the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA).

Mr. Boone performed this tribute to the Guard at the Rolling Thunder’s 20th anniversary gathering on the Mall during Memorial Day weekend festivities. He also accompanied the PVA float during the Memorial Day parade, where he sang his patriotic salute to the Guard backed by Valor, the three-member vocalists who are touring the country performing “For my Country” at Guard events.

JIM MARTIN

President

60 Plus Association

Arlington

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Viola Herms Drath wrote a very thoughtful article, “A voice for the Guard,” but her advocacy for the Guard-favored “four-star” solution not only elevates one reserve component of the armed forces to the detriment of the other four, but does nothing to address post-September 11 realities.

What is required is a complete overhaul of the National Guard to meet the new challenges of homeland defense as a primary mission, with its military reserve function relegated to secondary mission. We can accomplish this in three steps:

Reassignment: All armored/mechanized, combat aviation, combat engineer and special operations units of the Army and Air National Guard are reassigned to the respective Army and Air Forces Reserves.

Reorganization: The ArmyNational Guard in each state will consist of one or more brigades of light infantry/security troops heavily supported by military police, medical, ground and air transportation, communications, civil engineer, civil affairs and nuclear-biological-chemical decontamination units. The Air National Guard in each state will consist of one or more squadrons of transport aircraft such as the versatile C-130. Unit training will focus on homeland crises as the primary mission.

Realignment: Remove all Guard units from the Department of Defense and subordinate them to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), where the Coast Guard and the Federal Emergency Management Agency already reside. Just as the Coast Guard can be (and has been) merged into the Navy in wartime, so too can the Guard retain its role as a reserve of the Army and Air Force in time of war.

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