(Host) Lawmakers have unanimously re-elected Major General Martha Rainville as the adjutant general of the Vermont National Guard. Rainville says the Guard faces some significant challenges in the coming years.
VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.
(Kinzel) Rainville received a long standing ovation from lawmakers immediately following her election. Rainville will be serving her fifth term as the commander of the Vermont National Guard. She was elected to her first two-year term in the winter of 1997; at that time she was the first woman in the country to be elected to this post.
In her first two terms in office, Rainville implemented a number of organizational changes. Her third term involved the Guard’s response to the terrorist attacks of September 11 and the new responsibilities that emerged after those attacks. Her most recent term has been consumed with the issues associated with preparing Guard units for active service in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan.
Rainville says one of her major challenges will be guiding the Guard through a major restructuring of the nation’s armed forces. The Pentagon is pursuing this approach to ensure that units can respond quickly to events that develop throughout the world, and the Guard is part of this new plan:
(Rainville) “The practical impact will be a more streamlined organization, not necessarily a smaller one but more streamlined. We will be able to incorporate probably the Mountain Infantry into the brigade, our command and control will be a little but different. But it will really help us to align ourselves with the defense needs of the nation by aligning ourselves with the active component. So it’s good for Guard and I believe it’s going to be good for Vermont.”
(Kinzel) Rainville says the Guard also faces some critical recruiting challenges at this time. Not as many people leaving military service are joining the Guard as in previous years:
(Rainville) “Particularly now when we are pretty much at war, they’re either having to stay on active duty or they’re choosing to take a break, understandably. And we have more hesitancy on the part young men and women and their families to sign up right now. So we’re still recruiting but we’re doing it knowing we’re in a very different time right now than normal.”
(Kinzel) Rainville says she looks forward to having Vermont Guard troops return from active service in the Middle East. A welcome home ceremony is being planned next week for several hundred Guard members who have just come back.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.