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Agreement Signed to Establish Center to Study Guard

Washington Report

The National Guard Bureau and the University of Southern Mississippi inked an agreement Jan. 23 to establish the Center for the Study of the National Guard on USM’s Hattiesburg, Mississippi, campus.

Joseph Paul, the USM president, and Richard Clark, the director of the NGB History Office, signed the formal memorandum of understanding during a ceremony at the National Guard Memorial, the NGAUS headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The collaboration between USM and NGB will establish a central repository for archival materials and oral histories to function as an international-level resource for the center for the study of the Guard’s past, present and future.

The MOU states collected materials will be housed within the university’s Dale Center for the Study of War and Society, which serves as a resource for the study of the history of warfare and its influence on soldiers and civilians.

More information about the Dale Center is available here.

Andrew Wiest, the co-director of the Center of the Study of the National Guard, said the facility will fill a need for a central repository, or "beehive archive," for research materials centers like those the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force have.

"The Guard’s documents are out there," Wiest said, "but they're scattered to museums, archives, armories and attics all over the country."

Wiest said he and fellow co-director Kevin Greene felt the Dale Center would be the best place to help centralize these materials.

"We want to make USM an academic home for past and present National Guard service personnel and their families," Greene said. "A place where their stories of service and sacrifice can be preserved and can be told."

Per the MOU, the NGB will provide "histories and documents of historical significance to USM as determined to be appropriate by the NGB Historian," plus facilitate contact between USM and the Guard organizations of the 54 states, territories and the District of Columbia.

USM will preserve the documents and provide public and academic access to the materials.

Paul acknowledged the importance of the Guard to Mississippi. He called the force a "hidden giant" in the state's history.

"The Guard has enabled [men and women] to develop their skills," he said, "not only changing their lives but those of their families for generations to come, all the while protecting and serving the state of Mississippi in times of hurricanes and tornadoes and defending the security of our nation. Some even made the ultimate sacrifice."

Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, was among those who attended the ceremony.

Retired Brig. Gen. J. Roy Robinson, the outgoing NGAUS president, presided over the event.

A USM graduate, Robinson said the Center of the Study of the National Guard will be a "tremendous" asset in telling the Guard's story.

— By Donald Lambert