By: MacKenzie Dreeszen
General Timothy Orr of the Iowa National Guard delivered the condition of the National Guard address to the Iowa legislature on Tuesday. 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the entry of the United States into World War I and the founding of Camp Dodge, home of the Iowa National Guard in Johnston. Camp Dodge has come a long way since the days of horse-drawn carts and bayonets, yet still retains their commitment to preparing service members for combat and natural disaster relief.
Camp Dodge is the third-busiest National Guard training base in the country, with more than 400,000 days of training. General Orr said that the days of the National Guard being called in only for emergencies “are over”, and that members are serving during the “longest, most challenging period of war and domestic emergencies” in Iowa history.
“Almost 40% of our current soldiers and airmen are combat veterans, which is the highest percentage in this organization’s history.”
There are 425 Iowa National Guard soldiers and airmen on active duty. General Orr said that their main duties include “fighting American Wars, securing our homeland, forming partnerships with government agencies, and making our communities better places to live”.
“Today’s evolving nature of warfare demands an evolving warrior. One that is highly educated, physically fit, technologically savvy, and globally aware. The Iowa National Guard has executed every mission to which we have been assigned. We’ve served our state and nation here at home and we’ve rapidly deployed wherever needed.”
General Orr highlighted recent accomplishments of the Iowa National Guard, including advancements in STEM.
“Opportunities today for science, technology, engineering, and math in the Iowa National Guard have never been better.”
To date, every National Guard armory in Iowa has been renovated in the last 25 years. The National Guard brought in $350 million in revenue.
The National Guard was also crucial in managing flood recovery efforts when the Cedar River flooded in September of 2016, affecting many communities in eastern Iowa. In one week, 500 members of the Guard were placed on duty to help those impacted by the flood.
The Iowa National Guard maintains a partnership with Kosovo, and established the first foreign consul in Des Moines. More than 100 operations have occurred since the inception of this partnership.
The educational opportunities provided by the Iowa National Guard have benefitted many service members.
“The Iowa National Guard has helped to keep youth in our state by making a high-quality education at our universities and community colleges possible for these men and women.”
General Orr believes that the Iowa National Guard is in the “top echelon” in the nation for recruits.
“The Iowa National Guard is always there and always ready. We are woven into the fabric of every community in the state. Undoubtedly we will face domestic and foreign challenges. But the Iowa National Guard will remain ready.”