NEW COMMANDER TAKES OVER GUAM NATIONAL GUARD

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HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, May 25) - Retired Air Guard
Col. Robert M. Cockey assumed command of the Guam National Guard as its new
adjutant general during a ceremony at the University of Guam field house
yesterday.

Gov. Felix Camacho appointed Cockey, a decorated Vietnam War
veteran, to the position in April. He was sworn in by the governor in front of
close to 1,000 Army and Air Guard members. Military dignitaries and senators
also were in attendance.

The governor, who made the appointment official by passing the
Guam flag to Cockey, said he appointed Cockey because the general is a proven
leader and warrior.

"I'm confident in his abilities to ensure our Guardsmen are
trained, equipped and ready to serve our island of Guam and our nation,"
Camacho told the crowd.

Cockey praised Guard members for their service and said he has a
lot of faith in them. After the ceremony, he said he has many plans for the
island's National Guard.

One of the challenges he faces is preparing for a nationwide
consolidation of National Guard headquarters.

The consolidation plan was announced last week by Lt. Gen. H.
Steven Blum, chief of the U.S. National Guard system. In each of the 54 states
and territories, the National Guard has three separate headquarters -- one for
the Air Guard, one for the Army Guard and one for the ''area command'' run by
the state's adjutant general. By Oct. 1, the three will be consolidated into
one, he has said.

The goal of the mergers is to bring the Air and Army elements
closer together, and the units more combat ready.

"What we are going to do is make more of a joint command in
how it looks and feels, but it is not a downsizing," Cockey said.

"For some of the other states, they will have to
consolidate some things, but for us I see it more as a growth."

Growing the Guard is one of Cockey's major goals.

He said he would like to add an Air National Guard security unit
by 2004, and work toward getting aircraft for both the Army and Air National
Guard.

"It used to be you were mobilized in case of a big
conflict. Today they are mobilized every time there is something going on, which
is often here. So we fill a very important gap, and that leads to growth."

Cockey is the eighth adjutant general to lead the Guam National
Guard in its 22 years of existence. He succeeds Brig. Gen. Jerry Rivera, who
resigned from the position Dec. 31. Col. Dennis Santo Tomas served as commander
of troops during the interim.

May 26, 2003

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com 

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