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WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (left) spoke with Company Grade Officers with the New Hampshire National Guard on April 30 in the Hart Senate Building in Washington, D.C. The visit was part of a two-day CGO Professional Development Tour. (U.S. Air Force Photo by 2nd Lt. Brooks Payette/Released)

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (left) spoke with Company Grade Officers with the New Hampshire National Guard on April 30 in the Hart Senate Building in Washington, D.C. The visit was part of a two-day CGO Professional Development Tour. (U.S. Air Force Photo by 2nd Lt. Brooks Payette/Released)

WASHINGTON -- Members of the New Hampshire Air National Guard are pictured with U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen during a visit to the Capitol April 30. The visit was part of a two-day CGO Professional Development Tour. (Courtesy Photo/Released)

WASHINGTON -- Members of the New Hampshire Air National Guard are pictured with U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen during a visit to the Capitol April 30. The visit was part of a two-day CGO Professional Development Tour. (Courtesy Photo/Released)

WASHINGTON -- Nearly two dozen company grade officers from the New Hampshire Army and Air National Guard learned more about the strategic direction of the organization during a CGO Professional Development Tour in Washington D.C. April 29-30.

The 12 company grade officers from the 157th Air Refueling Wing and eight from the New Hampshire Army National Guard flew into Andrews Air Force Base before visiting the Air National Guard Readiness Center, the Pentagon, Capitol Hill, and the National Guard Association of the United States. The officers were joined by 157 Air Refueling Wing Command Chief Jamie Lawrence, Commander of the N.H. Air National Guard Brig. Gen. Carolyn Protzmann, and others from the National Guard.

"The purpose of this trip is to get our company grade officers a more strategic look at some of the more important issues," said Protzmann. "This is a very dynamic time for the National Guard so it is important that our officers remain aware of the relevant issues that we are dealing with."

The group met with a handful of individuals who influence policy at the federal level, including Director of the Air National Guard Lt. Gen. Stanley Clarke III, Air National Guard Command Chief Jim Hotaling, National Guard Association of the United States Legislative Affairs Manager of Joint Programs Grace Washburn and U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte from N.H.

"Meeting Lt. Gen. Clarke and Chief Hotaling and understanding their strategic perspectives and vision for the force translate well to the work that is being accomplished at the squadron level," said Capt. Andrew Mosian of the 157th Logistics Squadron. "After learning more about the strategic challenges faced by the ANG from our own military leadership, it was powerful to then see and meet the political sphere which helps transform that strategy into policy."

Hotaling spoke to the group about ancillary training and Enlisted Performance Reports (EPRs), which will are undergoing major changes. The proposed shortened EPRs will be administered every two years, while ancillary training will move away from individual computer based training sessions to formal group training.

"There will be a 75 percent savings in time with the new (ancillary training) and it will put leaders in front of their airmen," said Hotaling.

The topic of professional development was of particular interest to Army Capt. Cullen Debourgknecht, a personnel officer with the 54th Troop Command. He shared the challenges of professional development and feedback on the Army side with Hotaling.

"It was a great way to reflect, especially on the professional development side of things," said Debourgknecht. "It was really interesting from an Army perspective."

Debourgknecht believes the conversations with Air National Guard leadership will better prepare him for next year's CGO trip, which plans to spend more time with leaders of the Army National Guard.

"Getting to hear the strategic information from the (Air Force) side was actually instrumental for us understanding a little about what happens in other services," Debourgknecht said. "For next year, it is going to be important for us to send more company level officers to really get that experience and (interact) in D.C."

The joint nature of the trip was also highlighted by Protzmann, who said it was critical for leaders to develop relationships early to enhance mission accomplishment and unit readiness.

"These men and women are going to be our future commanders," she said. "When we start restricting resources, the requirement will to be to work together jointly for those things that make sense."

Pease Installation Unit Commander 1st Lt. Joseph Smith said the trip reminded him of the importance of working with the Army, especially in the instance of state and national emergencies, including national disasters.

"There is a whole joint piece that we really need to work on together," said Smith. "This trip was good because I had never met (the Army officers) and now I have been able to spend two days with them."

The importance of joint operations and efficiently utilizing all resources are sentiments that stuck with Mosian too.

"Based on the briefings of the trip, the (Air Force and Department of Defense) are looking for efficiencies in every place it can," he said. "Whether through Total Force Integration or jointly supported missions, we will rely and do rely on the Army Guard in N.H. in order to fulfill some of our missions and therefore forging those relationships is very important."
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