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I am incredibly honored to be appointed to serve as the 54th Adjutant General of New York by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and to serve as the leader of our men and women of the New York Army and Air National Guard, the Naval Militia and New York Guard.
We spend a lot of time thinking about our hardware, the planes, helicopters, trucks, weapons and other equipment we need to do our jobs. However, you are the most important and essential resource we have.
My predecessor, Major General Tony German, always stressed the fact that we are a Guard family, and I intend to continue that emphasis. We have an efficient and effective organization and it is my goal to ensure that each of our service members - both traditional and full-time - and our state and federal civilian employees are treated with dignity and respect. Each one of you is a valued member of our team.
Any adjutant general’s success is a result of the hard work and efforts of every one of you - the 19,000 people who serve in New York’s Military Forces or work to support them. I cannot accomplish anything without each and every one of you.
I believe our organization is on an upward trajectory and we will continue to build on our prior achievements. From the newest private to the most experienced senior chief, everyone brings a unique work and life experience to our team. It’s that diversity of experience, thought, cultural background, and education experience that makes us stronger.
As we move the organization forward, I do have key tenants that I want you to be focused on.
First: we will focus on taking care of our service members, employees and families; because, as I’ve said before, you are our most important resource.
Second: we will build and sustain the readiness of the New York Army and Air National Guard to fight and win our Nation’s wars should we be called to defend our country. We’ll need the training and the equipment to serve side-by-side with our active duty counterparts and we must always be ready.
Third: we will always ensure that New York’s Military Forces are prepared to rapidly respond when the State’s residents are in need and the Governor calls us to action. When our neighbors need us, we will be there, and we will be prepared.
And specifically for the Army National Guard, my number one priority will be retaining our Soldiers.
In this regard, leaders must emphasize the benefits of membership in the Army National Guard. This includes pay, but it’s also important to promote other benefits such as money for education, comprehensive health insurance coverage, retirement benefits and even the ability to shop tax free at the Post Exchange.
The New York Army National Guard App, which can be downloaded from Google Play and the Apple App Store, is a good resource for this information. Please encourage your Soldiers to use it. Simply go to the App Store and search for “NY National Guard” and download it for free.
Individual Soldier readiness is my second priority for the New York Army National Guard. This includes medical readiness, duty MOS qualification, physical fitness, and enrolling in the required military leadership schools for Officers and NCOs in a timely manner.
Along with the rest of the Army, the Army National Guard will be moving from the old three-event physical readiness test to the new Army Combat Fitness Test. Leaders at all levels and Soldiers need to start training now. There’s a complete training guide on the New York Army National Guard App.
This test will help prepare our men and women for the rigors of combat. Forget the idea of maxing the fitness test simply for promotion points. The new test will gauge how ready a Soldier is for the challenges of combat.
My priorities for the New York Air National Guard are to ensure that every Airman is deployable. Each Airman must be competent and ready to excel in his or her job. This requires both mental and physical readiness to handle a variety of tasks in a combat environment. In addition, we will be working at the national level to ensure that our Wings are equipped with the same equipment as the active duty Air Force.
The New York Naval Militia and the New York Guard will continue to prioritize civil support missions in their training and tailor their forces to support those missions. Congratulations to the Naval Militia on their new landing craft - LC-350.
As we train and prepare for our various missions, it is important to remember the role of the leaders in all our formations.
A leader’s job is to prepare Soldiers and Airmen for combat. This means that leaders cannot always be your friend.
Leaders lead - and a major component of leadership is ensuring Soldiers and Airmen are trained and ready and are treated fairly with dignity and respect. The highest responsibility that comes with leadership is the training of our Soldiers and Airmen to prevent unnecessary combat deaths. Leaders have an absolute moral obligation in this regard.
As the nation relies more on its National Guard for warfighting duties as well as emergency response, the demands on our time will increase. Generally, at any given time, 10 to 15 percent of our reserve military members are serving on active duty.
You need to be ready for that call. All of us need to be ready for that call.
Soldiers and Airmen must make sure employers are aware of their upcoming training missions. Let your supervisors know when you will be gone. Employers who know what to expect are less likely to object when you serve.
As Adjutant General, I really want to hear from you. You can call me at (518) 786-4502 or e-mail me at email@example.com if you have a question or want to share a comment or suggestion.
The Guard Times magazine is a great forum for sharing command messages and stories about our force with each of you. I intend to share the magazine with other leaders in our force so they can share their perspective with you as well.
As always, thank you for your service.