Arizona National Guard Adjutant General

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Adjutant General Hugo Salazar is the first Latino to take command of the Arizona National Guard. HORIZONTE’s Jose Cardenas interviews Salazar about his new role.

José Cárdenas
>> thank you for joining us and welcome to "Horizonte." a new year brings a change in command at the Arizona national guard. Major general Hugo Salazar replaces major general David radical, who retired in December. Salazar is the first Hispanic to hold the state's top military post. He will serve out the remaining portion of Ratazczak's five- year term, which ends in 2012. Joining me now is major general Hugo Salazar. Welcome to "Horizonte,"

Hugo Salazar
>> Thank you.

José Cárdenas
>> And congratulations on your appointment.

Hugo Salazar
>> thank you very much.

José Cárdenas
>> Before we talk about that and your responsibilities, tell us about how you first got involved in the military.

Hugo Salazar
>> long story because I've been in the military since 1983 but born and raised in Chicago and after college in 1981, worked in Houston. And I jokingly refer to the fact that I'm one of the first victim of the very popular be all you can be army campaign. Came on the television and I felt that maybe the military was a good option for me and obviously turned out to work out well.

José Cárdenas
>> As I understand it you had graduated from college and had a promising career in the sporting goods industry and saw the commercial and that changed your life?

Hugo Salazar
>> Pretty much. I just saw it as an opportunity. I was still 23 years old at the time and I thought it was something different. I thought it would be something I would want to do before my life ended and I didn't know at the time that I was going to make a career of it. I thought I would initially go in and maybe do a tour. Three or six years and then go back to the civilian sector but that never happenedand I've been wearing a uniform since then.

José Cárdenas
>> six years in the army and then with the National Guard?

Hugo Salazar
>> Right.

José Cárdenas
>> tell us about your National Guard career.

Hugo Salazar
>> I came out in 1989 and left the active duty and I joined the national guard --

José Cárdenas
>> Here in Arizona?

Hugo Salazar
>> here in Arizona, and I came out to Arizona because I wanted to get into the private business and I bought a small charter bus company so for several years I was running the business and being a traditional guardsman, worked different staff assignments as a captain and then I was asked in 1983 to work on the joint taskforce and I thought it was going to be for a short time as an act of duty as a national guard soldier but 6 months has turned into 17 years.

José Cárdenas
>> explain the difference between traditional national guards men and is the other category active guards men?

Hugo Salazar
>> Full time national guard. There's a lot of different terms, but there's part time, which are those soldiers that people think of as the National Guard soldiers, those who come one weekend a month. Usually the first weekend of the month, come in and do their training and do an annual training for two or three weeks during the summer, and usually in the summer, and attend a military school for professional education or promotion. While they can't just show up on a Saturday morning and have everything ready -- the vehicle is ready and all of the units have a full-time national guard.

José Cárdenas
>> Currently, how many are there today in Arizona?

Hugo Salazar
>> In the Arizona national guard we have 8,000 army and airmen; there are 5500 on the army and 2500 in the air national guard and for full-time federal technicians we have about 2400.

José Cárdenas
>> And the people who work on the counter narcotics taskforce were full time national guard?

Hugo Salazar
>> Yes they were fulltime national guard.

José Cárdenas
>> And what were you doing?

Hugo Salazar
>> The taskforce has a wide spectrum of different mission categories but basically they were in support of law enforcement. Our military skills are suited for supporting law enforcement. So we support the law enforcement agencies and customs with sensor, maintenance, a lot of maintenance support for vehicles and equipment because the military is good on maintenance. We would also have analysts to assist in law enforcement and intelligence and counter drugs and counter narcotics activity along the border.
José Cárdenas

>> When did you first get involved in the task force?

Hugo Salazar
>> 1993.

José Cárdenas
>> Is that when it was created?

Hugo Salazar
>> No, in 1989. There was funding it was appropriated for. Called the counter drug taskforce. Primarily on the four southwest border states. The majority of the funding goes to the four southwest Border States but most states have a counter drug taskforce. There are two primary functions. There's counter drug and then demand reduction. JCNT which is what The joint taskforce is, they have a demand program which helps with schools and helps with the education and dangers of drugs and we do a lot of community type activities through the demand reduction portion of the program.

José Cárdenas
>> if you just read the newspapers of about two or three years ago, about operation jump start which iw ant to talk about later, went into effect, I think a lot of Arizonans would think that that's the first time the guard had been deployed to the border, but that's not accurate.

Hugo Salazar
>> It isn't, because we've been supporting law enforcement to a much lesser degree than operation jump start since 1989. We have a couple hundred. The numbers vary depending on the funding each fiscal year, but pretty much since 1989 we've had a couple hundred armies and air National Guard soldiers working full time to support law enforcement.

José Cárdenas
>> The rules of engagement?

Hugo Salazar
>> It doesn't change. We have to follow specific use of force spectrum. Basically, the bottom line, for a civilian to understand, we will never engage unless we're in danger and it's a life and death type of situation.

José Cárdenas
>>So while you back up law enforcement efforts the guard even in that role was not law enforcement?

Hugo Salazar
>>I think it's misunderstood that just because we wear a military uniform does not mean we're uniform law enforcement officers. We do not arrest -- we can only support law enforcement. So even back when the counter drug taskforce started our roles have never changes. Operation jump start introduced a higher number of soldiers that were doing not all of the functions that JCNTF has been doing since 1989 but we increased the aviation support, we increased the observation platforms along the border to assist the law enforcement officers in identifying and seeing traffic going across the border or going south.

José Cárdenas
>> I want to talk about operation jump start and our course your current appointment and what your doing. Before we get there, you ended up doing a tour in Iraq, tell us about that?

Hugo Salazar
>> after 9/11, because we've had a significant number of Arizona soldiers that were deployed - to date since 9/11 we just went over 6,000 airmen who have deployed and at the time I was a brigade commander which I was responsible for 1700 soldiers and had I had several of my units that had deployed and I thought as a senior officer and a leader, I did not feel comfortable being here in Arizona while a lot of our soldiers were going forward. Since as soon as I had the opportunity, then the general Maxin who was the adjunct general, I talked to him and I convinced him to let me deploy so I could do a tour -- I knew I didn't want to retire not having the experience that the soldiers had. I went to Iraq in 2005 and embedded in the Iraqi head quarters and developed training and guidance and worked hand in hand with the Iraqi leadership and developed awareness of their culture the kind of people they are. It was a great experience.

José Cárdenas
>> I can tell by your medals, you saw some combat as well?

Hugo Salazar
>> Yes, but I think most soldiers, that's an expectation every soldier who wears a uniform has. Fortunately, I wasn't injured but there were a couple or occasions when I was engaged.

José Cárdenas
>> You worked with General Petraeus while you were there.

Hugo Salazar
>> Yes he was my senior radar he was the commander of the multi national task force and I was one of many staff officers who reported to him.

José Cárdenas
>> Let's talk about your appointment, how did that come about?

Hugo Salazar
>> two years ago in January -- January 4th, 2007, I was selected by general radiczek to replace general Maxin who was retiring as the assist agent general. My responsibilities were to run the National Guard and I did the day-to-day management. General R Because of the mandatory age of 64, by law, radical had to retire and governor Napolitano named me as the replacement. Although I still have to go through the confirmation process.

José Cárdenas
>> You wore a couple of hats. One had to do with emergency management.

Hugo Salazar
>> Yes.

Hugo Salazar
>> And when we were talking about traditional and full-time National Guard, one of the requirements is that you still have to be a traditional guardsman. You have to have a military duty assignment. My official military title is acting general. That's the position I sit on the military document. But for the state, as a cabinet member for the governor, I'm the director of the department of emergency and military affairs.

José Cárdenas
>> what does that means in terms of if we had forest fires, does the national guard play a role?

Hugo Salazar
>> Yes, my department has four programs. The Arizona army national guard, the air national guard and the joint programs which oversees project challenge and some other state, accounting functions for the organization, and then also have the Arizona emergency management division which is responsible for assisting any kind of response for the state for floods, and search and rescue type of operations. And many times, the agency needs military support, particularly in search and rescue, where we're called out to help with a situation, to maybe an example would be flooding. If there's a need to bring in cargo, and the roads are blocked, aviation is a great way to bring supplies.

José Cárdenas
>> What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the National Guard and how do you intend to respond?

Hugo Salazar
>> I can't tell you how proud I am to be in charge of this organization. The biggest challenge is just to continue what we're doing. My personal agenda is to be a cheerleader. I'd like to be the cheerleader -- to increase the awareness of the National Guard. Because there's a misconception that it's just a weekend among soldiers. People don't understand all the things we do. We have a Singapore program. Soldiers come here for training, many different scopes of many areas and we have a project challenge and we do community support functions and activities and so my job is to be the cheerleader for the organization.

José Cárdenas
>> And educate the public at large?

Hugo Salazar
>> yes, because it's tough being a National Guard soldier. The sacrifices that the families make when they deploy. Its very common for a soldier to leave for over a year. This past weekend, we had an embedded training team in Afghanistan, 16 soldiers came back after being gone for 11 and a half months and being at the airport and seeing the community that comes out to encourage and welcome them home. Seeing the soldiers, being back in Arizona and seeing the families are one of the great things about being in the National Guard.

José Cárdenas
>> Again, congratulations for your appointment. I hope to have you back on to discuss this more

Hugo Salazar
>> thank you very much.

Hugo Salazar:Adjutant General,Arizonal National Guard;

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