NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam traveled to Germany and Afghanistan over the weekend, where he met with military leaders and troops. Haslam took the trip as a newly appointed member of the nation’s Council of Governors. The organization’s purpose is to strengthen links between the states and federal defense officials.
“Visiting our troops and being able to thank them for their service in person is always an honor, especially when they are half way around the world,” Haslam said. “These men and women serve under very difficult conditions, and their ongoing commitment and determination to defending our freedom is humbling.”
Other governors on the trip were Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.); Gov. Jay Nixon, (R-Mo.); and Gov. Brian Sandoval, (R-Nev.) The trip was Haslam’s second such visit as governor. He traveled to Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan and Germany in August 2011.
The four governors traveled Friday from Andrews Air Force Base to Ramstein Germany. On Saturday they toured the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center before traveling to Kabul, Afghanistan, and the International Security Assistance Force headquarters. On Sunday the governors visited the Regional Command East headquarters at Bagram Airfield before returning to headquarters of the ISAF. On Monday, they traveled from Kabul back to Germany then to Andrews Air Force Base.
For downloadable video of the governors’ visit to Bagram Airfield, click here, or copy and paste the following link into a web browser: http://www.dvidshub.net/video/363316/four-governors-and-under-secretary-army-visit-bagram-afghanistan#.VClsuBawSuQ.
Haslam was named this year as a member of the Council of Governors, a bipartisan group of 10 governors, appointed by the president. The Council of Governors was created by Congress in 2007 as a mechanism to advise the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Homeland Security and the White House Homeland Security Council on matters related to the National Guard, homeland defense and civil support. President Obama formally established the Council in 2010 by executive order.
The Council consists of five governors from each party, with two governors named as co-chairs. The term of the appointment is for two years with the possibility of reappointment. The council is currently co-chaired by Gov. Terry Branstad, (R-Iowa) and Gov. Martin O’Malley, (D-Maryland).
Other members of the Council of Governors are Nixon; Sandoval; Gov. Janice Brewer, (R-Ariz.); Gov. Dan Malloy (D-Conn.); Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D, Hawaii.); Gov. Matt Mead, (R-Wyo.); and Gov. Pat Quinn, (D-Ill.).
One of the first issues addressed by the Council of Governors when it was established seven years ago was a dual status command, which was identified to address governors’ long-standing concerns about the need for coordination between state and federal military forces during disaster response. Now, when responding to a disaster within a state, a governor may appoint a National Guard officer as dual status commander to command both state and federal military forces.
The council also developed a budget process agreement to enhance dialogue between governors and the Department of Defense on issues affecting the National Guard. The agreement is intended to ensure governors’ perspectives in the Department of Defense’s planning, programming and budget processes.
This year, recognizing the growing threat to cybersecurity, the Council of Governors approved a joint action plan on the issue with the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security. The plan is a commitment by states and the two federal departments to work together to improve the nation’s cybersecurity. It establishes a framework to guide state and federal discussions regarding sharing information, coordinating operations and incident response.
The cybersecurity plan was approved in July during the National Governors Association 2014 Summer Meeting in Nashville. Sese Bennett, chief information security officer for Tennessee, and David Purkey, homeland security advisor for the state, participated in a Council of Governors working session on the cybersecurity issue last month in Washington.