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Guard Embraces Army’s ‘Year of NCO’ Observance

By Army Staff Sgt. Jon Soucy
Special to American Forces Press Service

ARLINGTON, Va., Feb. 9, 2009 – The leadership of the Army National Guard has embraced the yearlong celebration of the Army’s noncommissioned officer corps, which features many events and initiatives planned throughout the year to showcase the role of NCOs.

“For 372 years, our noncommissioned officers have been the backbone of the Army National Guard,” Army Command Sgt. Maj. John D. Gipe, the Army Guard’s command sergeant major, said in a letter announcing support of the Year of the NCO. “Since 9/11, though, they have particularly proven to be its very heart and soul.”

Gen. George W. Casey Jr., Army chief of staff, expressed a similar sentiment.

“As [Army Secretary Pete Geren] and I looked around the Army,” Casey said, “it was clear to us that the noncommissioned officer is the glue that is holding this Army together at a critical time, and many accomplish the near-impossible every day.”

The military is engaged in protracted overseas operations, including combat duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. After more than seven years of combat operations, Gipe said, many people believe the NCOs of the Army Guard are among the best in the Guard’s history.

“Our ranks consist of the most talented pool of professional NCOs ever to muster,” Gipe said. “Their unique depths and talents, forged in their communities, bring to the force the ability to operate, maintain, administer, manage, train, lead, fight, dominate and win on today’s battlefield.”

The Year of the NCO comes with a special significance for the Guard, with the naming of Staff Sgt. Michael Noyce-Merino of the Montana Army National Guard as the Army’s NCO of the Year.

“Sergeant Merino exemplifies the professionalism, skill and knowledge that are the hallmarks of National Guard NCOs, and we are immensely proud of this great American,” Air Force Gen. Craig R. McKinley, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said.

As part of the celebration, the Army Guard has several events planned for the year to highlight the contributions of the NCO, including many events that will feature Noyce-Merino. Each month is scheduled to focus on the achievements and contributions in everything from combat operations to daily training activities, officials said.

(Army Staff Sgt. Jon Soucy serves at the National Guard Bureau.)

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Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr.
Air Force Gen. Craig R. McKinley
Army Command Sergeant Major John D. Gipe

Related Sites:
Army National Guard
“Year of the NCO”

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