The leader of the Iowa National Guard says due to multiple deployments, the members of the units he oversees are the “most seasoned” soldiers in the Guard’s 170-year history. Adjutant General Tim Orr delivered the annual “Condition of the Guard” address to legislators this morning.
“More than 65 percent of our soldiers and airmen currently serving are combat veterans,” Orr said. “More than 16,000 of our men and women have served in the on-going campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, peacekeeping duties in the Balkans and the Sinai Peninsula and during emergency response missions in Iowa and across the country.”
Orr took over as the Guard’s leader in March of 2009, and Governor Branstad kept Orr in place when he took over as commander-in-chief last month.
“Despite the high operation tempo, the mission requirements and the daily challenges of our Iowa National Guard soldiers and airmen, we remain unconditionally mission focused and warrior ready,” Orr told legislators.
Orr warned that while troop levels are reduced in places like Iraq and Afghanistan over the next few years, the pace of deploynment for soldiers in the Guard will not be reduced.
“We are now at a point where current and projected demands for Army and Air Force assets will require continued access to the National Guard and the Reserve forces, making very real what has been a policy for some time,” Orr said. “This means that the mobilization and the operational use of the National Guard…will continue for the foreseeable future despite the ongoing reductions overseas.”
Orr began his 27-minute speech with “thank you” to Iowans who have helped the families of soldiers who’ve been deployed. Orr called the response “simply incredible.”
Listen to the speech here: State of Guard 27:03 MP3