FARGO, N.D. - The North Dakota National Guard will host a Professional Development Workshop for leaders at all levels in the state's Army and Air Guard on March 11-14. It will coincide with the annual Combined Associations Conference, which brings together members of the Officers and Enlisted Associations - professional organizations National Guard members may choose to join.

The theme for this year's conference is "Adding Value to Our Communities, State and Nation." Senior military leaders and deployed North Dakota National Guard commanders will offer insights reflective on that theme to the nearly 500 registrants.

Three top military leaders will kick off the main portion of the conference Friday morning; they include Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt III, director of the Air National Guard; Lt. Gen. Robert R. Allardice, 18th Air Force commander at Scott Air Force Base, Ill.; and Maj. Gen. Raymond W. Carpenter, acting director of the Army National Guard.

Friday afternoon brings North Dakota-specific updates with deployed commanders briefing from their mission locations in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota National Guard adjutant general, will give his State of the North Dakota National Guard address, as well.

The conference's keynote speaker, Retired Sgt. 1st Class Dana Bowman will speak on "Managing Change: The Only Constant" and, as the closing address, on "Conquering Adversity." Bowman served in the Army as a Special Forces Soldier and member of the Army's elite Golden Knights parachute team. Bowman lost his legs during a 1994 training accident with the Knights, and nine months later became the first double amputee to re-enlist in the Army.

Portions of the conference will be targeted toward military families, including a direct address from Sprynczynatyk and sessions titled, "Volunteers: Where the Rubber Meets the Road," "Preparing for Disasters, Deployments and Difficulties" and "Kids Serve, Too." A working lunch on Saturday will address "Soldiers and Airmen: Caring for our Own."

During a banquet Saturday evening, the North Dakota Army National Guard will name the Enlisted Soldier of the Year and Noncommissioned Officer of the Year out of a group of finalists who have been preparing and testing for the past year. Additionally, North Dakota's National Guard Association will name the Company-Grade Officer of the Year and Field-Grade Officer of the Year for the Army and Air Guard. Airmen of the Year, who were named during a March 6 ceremony, will be recognized, as well.

An additional award, the National Guard Association of the United States' Charles Dick Medal of Merit, will be presented to Congressman Earl Pomeroy on Sunday. The award recognizes contributions to the National Guard by elected officials.

WHAT: North Dakota National Guard Professional Development Workshop and Combined Associations Conference

WHEN: Thursday, March 11 through Sunday, March 14

WHERE: Holiday Inn, 3803 13th Ave. S., Fargo, N.D.

COORDINATION: Media are welcome to attend this event. Suggested coverage times follow. For more information, call 701-426-0190, 701-412-6895, 701-238-6944 or 701-426-5205.
8:15-9 a.m. Friday, March 12: Address by Maj. Gen. Raymond W. Carpenter, acting director, Army National Guard
9-9:45 a.m. Friday, March 12: Address by Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt III, director, Air National Guard
10:15-11 a.m. Friday, March 12: Address by Lt. Gen. Robert Allardice, 18th Air Force commander
11 a.m. Friday, March 12: Remarks by Gov. John Hoeven
12:30-2 p.m. Friday, March 12: Updates from deployed commanders in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan
2-3 p.m. Friday, March 12: State of the North Dakota National Guard address by Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk
10:15 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 13: "Managing Change: The Only Constant" by Retired Sgt. 1st Class Dana Bowman
6:30-8:30 p.m. Saturday, March 13: Banquet, with the awards presentation to begin around 7:15 p.m.
11:15-11:30 a.m. Sunday, March 14: Presentation of the Charles Dick Medal of Merit to Congressman Earl Pomeroy
11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Sunday, March 14: "Conquering Adversity" by Retired Sgt. 1st Class Dana Bowman
Since the 2001 terrorist attacks on America, the North Dakota National Guard has mobilized more than 3,500 Soldiers and more than 1,800 Airmen in support of the Global War on Terrorism. Currently, about 800 North Dakota Guardsmen are serving overseas. With a total force of about 4,400 Soldiers and Airmen, sufficient forces remain in the state for emergency response and homeland defense.