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N.Y. Guard chief takes national reins

N.Y. Guard chief takes national reins

Major Gen. Joseph Taluto, the leader of the New York National Guard and a former Schenectady residen

Major Gen. Joseph Taluto, the leader of the New York National Guard and a former Schenectady resident, was selected by President Barack Obama as the director of the U.S. Army National Guard, a job that establishes policies and programs for roughly 370,000 soldiers.

In a statement released Wednesday evening, Taluto said he would leave New York with a “heavy heart,” but is looking forward to the challenges of his new post.

“Leading America’s sons and daughters is one of an officer’s greatest responsibilities and one of my greatest joys,” he said. “I look forward to doing all that I can to help our soldiers and their families better serve their states and our great nation, but will miss the terrific men and women of the New York National Guard with whom I have served nearly all my life.”

If confirmed, Taluto will become a three-star general and replace Lt. Gen. Clyde Vaughn, who is expected to retire at the end of May after serving as the guard’s director over the past four years. The U.S. Senate hasn’t established a time line for Taluto’s confirmation, which will be considered by the 26 members of the Armed Services Committee.

For weeks, Taluto was rumored to be in the running for the director’s position. Speculation was heightened when his home on Hadlock Pond in Fort Ann was placed on the market.

Gov. David Paterson, who forwarded Taluto’s name to the president for consideration, praised the general for his service with the New York Guard. He said Taluto’s departure would be bittersweet.

“Major General Joseph Taluto has been a dedicated officer in the New York National Guard for more than 40 years and his selection not only reflects his great ability and tremendous leadership style, but the talent and expertise New York can offer to the rest of the nation,” he said in a statement.

Echoing the governor’s statements, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., lamented the departure but praised the choice. He characterized Taluto as furthering the state’s strong tradition of leadership.

“General Taluto is a exemplary military officer and yet another example of extraordinary talent in New York State,” he said in a statement. “The president has made a fine choice in tapping him to lead the National Guard, and New York’s loss is the nation’s gain.”

Likewise, representatives from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s office praised the president’s choice. Spokeswoman Bethany Lesser said the senator has a long-standing relationship with Taluto and has contacted him to discuss the nomination.

“Senator Gillibrand has pledged to work with her colleagues in the Senate to see that the appointment process goes smoothly and quickly,” she said.

Taluto grew up on the outskirts of Schenectady and joined the National Guard as a private in 1965. He was commissioned as an officer in 1968.

Taluto served as the Joint Task Force Commander during the 42nd Infantry Division’s initial emergency response after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He directed a force of some 2,000 Guard soldiers to assist the city’s Office of Emergency Management in security and recovery operations.

Four years later, Taluto led the largest combat deployment of New York National Guard soldiers since the Korean War. In 2006, he was appointed the New York National Guard’s adjunct general and has since overseen the deployment of more than 3,000 soldiers to Iraq and Afghanistan, including in 2008, the largest single deployment of a New York unit since World War II.

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