(Host) A veteran Air National Guard pilot is the new commander of the Vermont National Guard.
The Vermont Legislature voted overwhelming in favor of Brigadier General Michael Dubie today.
VPR’s John Dillon was at the Statehouse.
(Welch) “Listen to the results of your vote. Total number of ballots cast, 170. Number necessary for election: 86. Mr. Dubie: 106”
(Host) Dubie is a commercial airline pilot with a long career in the Air Guard.
Representative Joseph Krawczyk, a Bennington Republican, nominated Dubie. Krawczyk talked about the general’s experience in war, and in peace.
(Krawczyk) “Most notably, among his assignments was in 2004 when he was selected to command an active duty Air Force base in Baghdad International Airport Iraq. There he was awarded a Bronze Star for his decisive leadership during rocket and mortar attacks, and ambassadorial Iraq out-reach programs in the Sunni triangle.”
(Dillon) Dubie will serve out the rest of Major General Martha Rainville’s term. Rainville is stepping down April 1st to run for Congress.
In a brief interview after his election, Dubie talked about some of the challenges facing Vermont’s citizen soldiers. He said recruitment is a big concern.
(Dubie) “We are challenged demographically in Vermont. We have a low unemployment. We have a high per capita of the amount of people already in the Guard. Of all the factors, we need to redouble our efforts and try to get more people in the National Guard. I think it’s good for the state to have a robust National Guard.”
(Host) Recruiting during wartime has been difficult. But equally challenging is the Army Guard’s new mission, a change that will transform the force from one that operates heavy tanks to a lighter, more mobile infantry.
The changes facing the Guard led some lawmakers to back Army Guard Lieutenant Colonel Judith Sheehan for adjutant general.
Representative Ernest Shand is a Weathersfield Democrat whose son is serving in Iraq. Shand said his son told him it was important to have an Army Guard officer in charge during this time of change.
(Shand) “They stand to lose. Some of the statistics show, they’re going to lose 50% of the people because of this transition. And it’s going to take a lot of work to make sure that we only lose 25%. Retention and recruiting is going to be a big item in the next five years.”
(Dillon) Dubie wears the blue uniform of the Air Guard. And there was talk in the Statehouse about a split between the Air Guard and the larger Army Guard.
Republican Senator Vince Illuzzi is a Dubie supporter. He said the new adjutant general can help heal any rift between the two services.
(Illuzzi) “I think that with a little work on his part he can . have everyone pulling in the same direction. I have every confidence he’ll be able to do that. I think the vote today reflects that others do too.”
(Dillon) Dubie said he’ll be an effective leader who can transcend any differences between the Air and Army Guard. He described himself as a person who leads by listening to the men and women under his command.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.