NGAUS Washington Reports 9-28-2010

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Washington Report September 28, 2010  

Bill Cuts Travel Distance for Tax Deduction  

National Guardsmen who travel more than 50 miles to training would be able to deduct from taxes out-of-pocket expenses under a bill introduced last week by two Democratic senators.

 The Travel Reimbursement for Inactive Duty Training Act legislation (S.3819) amends the Internal Revenue Code and is sponsored by Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts and Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas. 

The current law does not allow deductions for such expenses as mileage, food and lodging for travel less than 100 miles. The TRIP Act would cut that in half and brings it in line with the regulation for federal workers who travel for job-related duties. 

NGAUS distributed a Legislative Alert regarding this bill Monday. 

In a statement released with the bill’s introduction, Lincoln said she has heard from several Arkansas reservists who struggle with expenses when attended required duty. 

“By not easing this burden, particularly in these tough economic times, we are impairing our ability to recruit and retain quality men and women in the Guard and Reserves,” she said. Kerry said in a statement, “It’s time to level the playing field and help our military men and women who so bravely defend us.” If passed, the law would take effect Dec. 31.

 Magazine: New Dawn, New Armor and Austin  

Combat operations have ended in Iraq, but the war’s impact on the National Guard has been great. Operation Iraqi Freedom moved the Guard forward as an operational force, created combat-tested leaders and proved the Guard’s worth as an overseas fighting force. And it still has a role in Operation New Dawn. Read about it in the October issue of National Guard. … 

Heavy combat vehicles still clank about in the National Guard, but there are fewer of them. To keep them worthy for battle, the Army is modernizing Abrams tanks and Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles. Read how the effort is progressing. … The NGAUS conference had a rodeo, a drill team, relevant speakers and a mariachi band. How could it have been anything but a success?  

Also: The new chairman introduces himself. The story of a long-serving adjutant general is told. Troops are busy from Kabul to Kinshasa.  

Read all this and more in the October issue of National Guard, arriving soon in your mailbox. For an early peek, check it out later this week at www.ngaus.org/magazine.  

Report: Greater Investment in Guard, Reserve

 The government should invest more in the National Guard and Reserves so those forces can maintain their vital role in America’s national security, a report from a defense-related think tank concludes. 

From equipment to family programs, the Guard and Reserves still lag behind the active components, the report says, putting their readiness and capability at risk at a time when their participation is vital. 

“The Guard and Reserves possess capabilities required for the type of operations that the U.S. military is likely to perform over the next 20 years,” according to “An Indispensable Force: Investing in America’s National Guard and Reserves.”  

The report, which was released last week, was published by the Center for a New American Security, based in Washington, D.C. Its authors are John Nagl, the center’s president, and Travis Sharp, a research associate.  

“When Guardsmen and reservists do not possess and train on the modernized equipment they will use during deployments, premobilization readiness declines, boots on the ground time in theater decreases, morale plummets and the flexibility to reassign units from one mission to another disappears,” the authors note. 

The report also says the Defense Department should find a way to measure the relative costs of the active components and the reserve components.  

Failing to do so, the authors write, the DoD risks making future decisions “based not on cost-benefit analysis, but on the sporadic yet recurring anti-Guard and Reserves cultural bias that motivated previous DoD attempts to reflexively slash the Guard and Reserve when defense budgets decline.”  

The report can be found at www.ngaus.org/cnasreport0910.

 Guardsman Nominated for NORTHCOM Post  

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced last week that the president has nominated Maj. Gen. Frank J. Grass for appointment to the grade of lieutenant general and assignment as deputy commander, U.S. Northern Command/vice commander, U.S. Element, North American Aerospace Defense Command at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.  

Grass is currently serving as director of operations for NORTHCOM. He assumed that position in September 2008.  

If confirmed, Grass would replace retired Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, who was the first National Guard officer to serve as a deputy combatant commander.  

Grass enlisted in the Missouri Army Guard in October 1969. He attended the Missouri Army National Guard Military Academy Officer Candidate School and was commissioned in the engineer corps in 1981.  

Grass has served in a variety of command and staff positions as a traditional National Guard soldier, in the Active Guard and Reserve program and on active duty. In his first general officer assignment, Grass served as the deputy director of the Army Guard.

 Prior to his current joint duty assignment at NORTHCOM, the general served in a joint assignment as the director for mobilization and reserve component affairs at U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, Germany.  

ASSOCIATION HISTORY  

In 1948, retirement benefits for Guardsmen and Reservists as provided by Public Law 810 resulted from efforts initiated by NGAUS at the 66th General Conference in Baltimore in 1944. Also, death and disability benefits were granted to Guard members on active duty training for less than 30 days or on inactive training status. 

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