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Association builds strong legislative program and strategy for 2016

Monday, January 04, 2016

Greetings! I am excited to write this article as your new Director of Government Affairs at AUSA National Headquarters.

As an AUSA life member since 1992, it is humbling and an honor to join the team. Since I arrived at AUSA in July, your Government Affairs team has been busy.

We worked with the AUSA Resolutions Committee that produced the 2016 AUSA Resolutions. Many thanks to the AUSA chapters who voted to approve them.

The resolutions’ overall focus is on readiness, mirroring Gen. Mark Milley’s number one priority as the Army chief of staff.

The resolutions’ format was revised this year in order to highlight our priority resolutions.

Please take a look at them on the AUSA website (www.AUSA.org, click on "Legislative Agenda"), where you will find links to both the priority resolutions and the detailed resolutions.

AUSA will use these resolutions to shape our Association’s legislative agenda and campaign plan for 2016.

In addition to the 2016 resolutions, the Government Affairs team has been active on Capitol Hill, in the Pentagon, and in building relationships with our fellow military and veteran’s service organizations, including The Military Coalition.

We intend to continue our work with other associations that have parallel interests in national security, as there is strength in numbers when we go to Capitol Hill.

At the 2015 AUSA Annual Meeting in October, your Government Affairs team was responsible for the Congressional Staff breakfast.

The Army’s Office of the Chief Legislative Liaison (OCLL), the Army Congressional Budget Liaison office (SAFM-BUL), and AUSA’s assistant director of government affairs, Julie Rudowski, were critical to the great success of this event.

The Congressional Staff breakfast allows Army leaders and the congressional staff (who do the "behind the scenes" research and difficult staff work for members of Congress) to meet in a neutral environment and discuss their concerns and priorities.

The breakfast was well attended, with over 200 congressional staff members and over 400 Army general officers, Department of the Army civilians and senior executive service members.

Both the secretary of the Army and the Army chief of staff shared their perspectives with the assembled group.

From December through February, Government Affairs will continue to build our legislative strategy for 2016.

We look forward to the Army’s Posture Statement and legislative objectives, along with the president’s budget request in the first week of February.

Since this is a presidential election year, the political dynamics in Washington will be turbulent, and it is likely that Congress will have the usual challenges in passing the defense authorization and defense appropriation bills on time.

In addition, the House and Senate Armed Services Committees plan to address military health care reform this year, and AUSA will be highly involved.

We will fight to maintain what works, and assist the congressional committees in developing useful reforms which improve care for soldiers and their families.

Government Affairs will keep you informed through our legislative updates.

That brings me to a final important topic – AUSA membership.

Although AUSA represents every American soldier, DA civilian, Army retiree, wounded warrior, Army veteran and family member, our membership numbers tell a different story.

If I asked a member of Congress how many members AUSA has, he or she might say 1 million.

Unfortunately, we currently have less than 100,000 individual members, and that decreases our potential as a strong voice for the Army on the Hill.

Please make a personal effort to recruit someone to join AUSA.

Your professional association’s effectiveness will be strengthened by every member you help add to our team.

In closing, I am proud to be part of the AUSA team, and I am committed to helping build the best professional and representative association for the world’s best Army.

See you on the high ground!

John Gifford

Director

Government Affairs