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NGAUS to Help CGOs Learn How Washington Works

03-05-24 WR Capitol Summit WEBSITE
03-05-24 WR Capitol Summit WEBSITE
Washington Report

National Guard company-grade officers from across the country will get the chance this month to learn how the federal government works and the role NGAUS plays in the legislative process.

The first Capitol Summit of 2024 is set for March 17-19.

The event – which will be based at the National Guard Memorial, the association’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. – is also a valuable professional development experience, said retired Col. Mike Hadley, the NGAUS vice president, government affairs.

"They not only understand the process, but how they can be effective working in the process," Hadley said.

"It is how they can be good advocates for their state, for their unit, for the Guard in general," he added.

The Capitol Summit is open to Army and Air Guardsmen who are NGAUS members ranking from second lieutenant to captain or warrant officer 1 to chief warrant officer 2.

Each of the Guard’s 54 organizations nationwide can select one participant and NGAUS will cover that person’s lodging, travel and meals related to the event.

NGAUS typically conducts two Capitol Summits annually, and Hadley calls the program’s direct engagements with congressional members its "capstone exercise."

"Inevitably, if you stay in the Guard for a full career, you’re probably going to have dealings with your congressional delegation at some point or other," he said.

"It’s definitely going to be part of your world, so you better learn how to navigate it," Hadley noted.

While each Capitol Summit differs, each one features unrivaled access to lawmakers, senior military leaders and NGAUS staff.

For example, attendees in two weeks will get an audience with Lt. Gen. Jon A. Jensen, the director of the Army Guard, and former Rep. Geoff Davis, R-Ky.

Maj. Gen. Janson "Durr" Boyles, the chairman of the NGAUS board of directors, and retired Maj. Gen. Francis M. McGinn, the association’s president, also have remarks planned.

NGAUS additionally invites the chief of the National Guard Bureau to address each summit, and past programs have included visits to Capitol Hill and the Pentagon.

The Capitol Summit ultimately gives the Guard’s rising CGOs a glimpse into the latest developments impacting the Joint Force, Hadley notes.

"You need to know what’s going on in not only other parts of the Guard, your own service, but the DoD, all of it," he said, referencing the Defense Department.

While the second Capitol Summit each year usually happens each fall, Hadley suggests this year’s version could happen as early as July.

The Capitol Summit isn’t just a learning experience, Hadley adds, but a chance to change how participants tell the Guard’s story wherever they go.

"I wish something like this had been available when I was a captain or lieutenant," he said.

"I just think it’s a great opportunity for young officers to learn more about their government and how they fit into all that," Hadley concluded.

— By Mark Hensch