New Four Star in Command at Kabul
Yet another former 82nd Airborne Division commander received his fourth star. America’s Guard of Honor is on the career fast track of assignments for general officers. Gen. John Nicholson took command this month of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, beginning a tour that will require big decisions about future force levels for a mission that’s now in its 15th year. Nicholson got his second star in the fall of 2012 when he became commanding general of the All American Division. He served the traditional two years at Fort Bragg before getting his third star and moving on to NATO’s Allied Land Command in Turkey. Then in February of this year, “Mick” Nicholson received his fourth star and took command of American forces in the war in Afghanistan. Nicholson will lead a force of about 10,000 American troops at a time of mounting violence in some parts of the country. It’s a much different situation than the one predicted several years ago by top Pentagon and White House officials who vowed that the military mission would end in 2017.
“I think that Gen. Nicholson has certainly inherited a mission that has sadly gone wildly off course,” said Michael Kugelman, an Afghanistan expert with the Wilson Center, a think tank in Washington.
New Congressman for Our Area
Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC) represents the state’s reconfigured 8th Congressional District. The newly designed district includes all or parts of seven counties along the N.C. Highway 24/27 corridor from Fayetteville to Concord. Hudson is new to congress but not to the 8th district. He was district director for former Congressman Robin Hayes for six years. The revised district includes the northern half of Cumberland County including Fort Bragg. The balance of the county is now in the 9th district which parallels the 8th along the South Carolina border.
Hudson introduced himself last week to interested Fayetteville residents during a visit with Mayor Nat Robertson. The pair held a question and answer forum at city hall. Hudson was elected to Congress in 2012 and noted that 40 percent of the members of the house have been elected since 2010. He conceded it’s been frustrating adjusting to the Washington, D.C., way of governing.
“I come home every weekend to get a fresh dose of common sense,” Hudson said.
All American Marathon
The City of Fayetteville and Fort Bragg will hold the second annual All American Marathon on Sunday, April 3. The race will begin at 7 a.m. at Festival Park in downtown Fayetteville and finish at Fort Bragg’s Main Post Parade Field. Registration is open. Racers will run up Ray Avenue to Hay Street where they will run through the heart of downtown Fayetteville, past the Market House. The route will then take runners past Veterans Park and the Airborne and Special Operations Museum, which is the home of the historic Iron Mike Statue. Runners will continue to Morganton Road and through Haymount. Runners will dash to the All-American Freeway where for half-marathoners, the course will extend approximately two miles on Fort Bragg. Half-Marathoners will exit the All-American onto Normandy and finish the race at the Main Post Parade Field at the replica Iron Mike Statue. Full marathon racers will enter the installation on Gruber road. The race course will then lead runners past the home of the 82nd Airborne Division and Pope Field. Marathoners will finish their course after passing FORSCOM headquarters to the finish line at the Main Post Parade Field.
Golf is Therapeutic
Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, has announced the Department of Veterans Affairs’ new partnership with the PGA of America in support of PGA HOPE. It’s a project designed to assist with the physical, social and mental rehabilitation of disabled military veterans. The VA will help the PGA identify disabled veterans who are candidates to participate in PGA HOPE. Tillis and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) say the idea is to assist vets with the social interaction golf provides. PGA professionals certified in instruction for golfers with disabilities will assist veterans to refine their skills. “An important part of truly transforming the VA and doing the right thing for veterans are the kinds of things we will do with PGA HOPE,” said Tillis. “The therapeutic value of veterans sharing their stories, and making friendships among themselves cannot be overstated,” Tillis added.