February 17th, 2006

Lt. Col. Judith Sheehan for Adjutant General

by Philip Baruth

The Legislature has set Feb. 27 as the date for the election of an adjutant general to replace Major Gen. Martha Rainville. Three or four names have already been floated, with the idea that one of them will lock up the secret ballot.

But not so fast: VDB got a dog in this fight too.

For a couple of months I’ve been corresponding with a regular visitor to the site, an experienced military type, who sees the post-911 world with admirable clarity. Jude, she signs her emails.

Only this morning did she let drop in a note that she’s recently declared herself a late candidate for Rainville’s AG position. She’s flying here from her station in Macedonia to stand in the election.

Turns out her full name is Lt. Col. Judith Sheehan of South Hero. Jude, to her friends.

I asked for her bio, and it’s a fairly jaw-dropping document. Some excerpts:

“1. Current and relevant education: Master of Arts in International Security and Civil-Military Affairs, from the School of International Studies, Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA.(2002)

“Thesis was on the Democratic Consolidation Efforts of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia 1991-2001. Half way through a second Masters of Strategic Studies, U.S. Army War College, developing a thesis on U.S. Strategy in Africa.

“2. Current and relevant duties now: 3 Years experience working for the United States Embassy. Current duties have me in the Macedonian Ministry of Defense. I am the Bilateral Affairs Officer in the Office of Defense Cooperation.

“3. Current achievements: Worked with the Ministry of Defense to formalize the Non Commissioned Officer Corp in Macedonia (Law passed last month). Worked with the Ministry of Defense to develop an Officer Career Program (schooling, training, promotions, assignments). Concept accepted by the Minister of Defense a few weeks ago. Working with the Training Command to develop a National School System, from Basic Training, to Non-Commissioned Officer Training, to Officer Training.

“4. Currently working with the Military Police Battalion (one of their declared forces) to develop training programs, get their equipment, and personnel, to prepare them for mobilization (probably Iraq or Afghanistan) by 2007. (It’s a $10M project.)

“5. Relevant Past Positions: 8 Years experience working in the field of Military Support to Civil Authorities. I wrote the first plans of Vermont National Guard support to Vermont Civil Authorities in in Counter-Drug Operations. Worked with Montpelier, and their Emergency Managment Team.

“Three years experience developing the a Regional Training Institute. (That great building located at Camp Johnson.) Training Officer In charge of developing the Programs of Instruction for Infantry (Basic Skills, and Non-Commissioned Officer courses).

“Under my direction, Ft. Benning accredited our courses 1 year before the deadline (Received the Mertorious Service Medal). We proceeded to train all the infantry soldiers from the New England states. We also taught the National Guard Officer Candidate School, and common core Non-Commissioned Officer courses.

“Four years experience as a Force Integration Officer. In charge of recommending to the Adjutant General for changes in force structure, mobilizing units, decommissioning units, and commissioning new units in the National Guard Force Structure.

“Ten years experience in Counter Terrorism training. Was a qualified Level II instructor, which basically means, I was responsible to ensure the the entire National Guard received Counter Terrorism instruction.

“Three years experience working with an Active Duty Combatant Command (European Comand). Also working with their subordinate commands, U.S. Army Europe, U.S. Airforce Europe, Marine Forces Europe and Navy Europe. Charged with ensuring the Combatant Commanders Theater Objectives are realized here in Macedonia (peace and stabilty, entrance into NATO).

“We expect an announcement at this year’s NATO summit that Macedonia will enter into NATO in 2008. A BIG achievement these last three years.”

Like I said, jaw-dropping — and highly relevant — experience. Add to that Jude’s ten year’s experience both as a Vermont Farmer (Swallow Quick Farm), and as Vice President of the Burlington Farmers Market — with special training in Vermont Range Chicken — and we’re talking the complete package.

Now look, this is a site that aims to enliven your day with a little bit of wicked humor, as well as the politics that make the world go round. And no apologies for that.

But the humor can make it difficult to be taken seriously some times, when the issue at hand calls for seriousness of purpose. Judith Sheehan has the military, diplomatic, and organizational skills to handle this crucial position, and she deserves more than a quick look. She has thought a great deal about the role of the Guard in today’s world.

VDB endorses her whole-heartedly.

Perhaps the immortal Paul McCartney said it best:

Hey jude, don’t make it bad.
Take a sad song and make it better.
Remember to let her into your heart,
Then you can start to make it better.