Iowa’s Adjutant General delivered the Condition of the Guard Address at the Statehouse Thursday morning.
Maj. Gen. Tim Orr praised the 9,400 Iowans who serve in the Iowa National Guard as well as the communities, businesses, and citizens that support them.
Orr also discussed the demands placed on the Iowa Guard over the past two decades, which required many Iowa soldiers to serve overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan. Orr says there are currently about 260 Iowa soldiers and airmen deployed, which is among the lowest number for the Iowa Guard since that beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
President Obama’s plan to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 was also mentioned as Orr explained its impact on the Iowa Guard. Orr says projected demand for Iowa Guard soldiers is declining in reference to the Afghanistan drawdown, but that U.S. interests will dictate the need for future force requirements.
Orr talked about the financial decision by the Department of Defense to shut down the F-16 fighter mission of the 132nd Fighter Wing based in Des Moines. He says Gov. Branstad was instrumental in minimizing the proposed personnel cuts the loss of the mission would bring through his role as co-chair of the President’s Council of Governors in the Department of Defense. Through his efforts the 132nd Fighter Wing is poised to take on three new missions that will mean only 32 personnel, of a possible 400 originally identified in February of 2012, will be lost. Those positions will be managed through retirements and transfers.
The new missions include a Reconnaissance Group which will include a Remotely Piloted Aircraft squadron, an Intelligence Group, and a cyber-security mission.
You can read the text of the address here.