DES MOINES – Today’s evolving nature of warfare requires an evolving warrior, the leader of the Iowa Army National Guard told lawmakers Tuesday.
“One that is highly educated physically fit, technologically savvy and globally aware,” Major General Timothy Orr, adjutant general of the Iowa Army National Guard, told a joint session of the Iowa Legislature.
For the Guard, that means drawing from the broadest pool of service-eligible Iowans, he said in his annual address. That pool includes young Iowans who are benefitting from the emphasis in K-12 schools on STEM – science, technology, engineering and math
“From intelligence-gathering and analysis, to aviation, to communications, to cybersecurity, we have dozens of part-time and full-time positions that utilize state of the art technology and application of STEM disciplines,” Orr said.
Although only Iowa 425 Guard members deployed around the globe, Orr hinted at increased mobilizations.
“The days of the Iowa National Guard serving exclusively as a strategic reserve -- called up only in emergencies -- are now over,” Orr said. Several Iowa Army National Guard and Iowa Air Guard units and individuals have been identified for potential overseas deployments.
Orr noted that as he spoke, members of the 185th Air Refueling Wing from Sioux City were "deployed worldwide, providing ongoing refueling support for real-world missions."
Given the level of global uncertainty, instability and potential for significant conflict around the world, “we are now at a point where current and projected demands for our assets around the globe will continue to remain constant,” he said.
So the Iowa Army National Guard continues to increase training opportunities for members to improve their individual skills and unit readiness.
Orr noted the Guard’s history goes back 180 years and 2017 marks the development of Camp Dodge as a major training base to mobilize soldiers for World War I. Today, Camp Dodge is the third busiest National Guard training base in the United States for training National Guard, Reserve and Active Duty service members, law enforcement officers, interagency personnel, and civilians, Orr reported.
In addition to its duties around the world, the Guard also is called on for emergencies at home, Orr said. Last year was relatively quiet, he said, but that changed in September when the Guard was called on to assist local agencies in dealing with unusual fall flooding along the Cedar River in Eastern Iowa.
He also reminded lawmakers of the economic impact of the Guard. In the past year, the Iowa Army National Guard brought in more than $353 million of federal funding into the state. For every $1 of state funding, the Iowa Army National Guard returned more than $32 of federal funding.
“To put it in perspective, our soldiers and airmen pay more in state property, payroll, and sales taxes than what the State of Iowa provides in funding to the Iowa National Guard,” Orr aid.
Orr also highlighted renovations of several bases around the state, including the 185th, which will break ground this year on a $12.4 million structure that will consolidate three aging facilities into one complex adjoining the Sioux Gateway Airport. The Iowa Army National Guard last year also completed renovation projects at armories in Sioux City and three other cities.
With legislative support, Orr said, the Iowa Army National Guard has been able to maintain its position as a national leader in personnel readiness because of programs like the Iowa National Guard Education Assistance Program, which he called a “critical recruiting tool.” This year, nearly 1,200 Guard members received up to 100 percent tuition at regents universities and community colleges “keeping our young people here in the state and providing them with a high-quality, Iowa education.”
The Iowa Army National Guard is in the top echelon nationally for the quality of recruits accessioned into the National Guard for 2016.
More than 20 percent of our Basic Training, Advanced Individual Training, or technical school graduates are either honor or distinguished graduates, on the commandant’s list, or in the top 10 percent at their respective military schools, he said.
In return, members of the Iowa Army National Guard are “woven into the fabric of Iowa through communities in every corner of this state, ready and willing to transform from civilians to soldiers and airmen in a moment’s notice to answer the call of our state and nation,” Orr concluded.