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Governor's Weekly Column: Equipping our National Guard





Equipping our National Guard

By Governor Kristi Noem

June 21, 2019

 

South Dakota has a strong legacy of military service. With over 72,000 veterans and more than 4,200 enrolled members of the National Guard, our state understands the importance of answering the call to serve.

 

Year after year, our National Guard is recognized nationally as an example to the nation for readiness, efficiency, and superiority. Earlier this month, I had the privilege of swearing in the new Adjutant General for the South Dakota National Guard, Major General Jeff Marlette. In this position, Major General Marlette will lead over 4,200 Air and Army National Guard members and approximately 1,000 full-time federal and state employees. He will be responsible for making sure our National Guard is trained and ready to respond to missions at all times.

 

This is a big job, but I know General Marlette is up for the challenge. He’s a combat veteran and has been in uniform for more than 32 years. But even more importantly, he’s a servant. He provides the same amount of dignity and respect to a stranger on the street as he would a four-star general. People admire him for his politeness, confidence, intellect, and his ability to lead under pressure. I know without a doubt that he will continue bolstering our readiness capabilities and equipping the Guard for any challenge they face. 

 

Working with General Marlette, I look forward to further strengthening the South Dakota National Guard. We’ve already made some great progress.

 

This legislative session, I worked with the legislature to put $5 million of state funds behind the construction of the Army Aviation Readiness Center in Rapid City. We’re also looking to start construction of the Sioux Falls Readiness Center in the next few years. These new readiness centers will give the National Guard the tools they need to train, prepare, and best protect our state.

 

Projects like these are only enhancements of an already great system… a system of excellence that has been recognized in our region, in our country, and around the world.

 

In mid-June, our South Dakota National Guard welcomed units from 12 states and two foreign nations to the state for the 35th annual Golden Coyote training exercise. This two-week-long training is one of the largest National Guard exercises in the country and is renowned globally as a top opportunity to provide units with relevant training in support of overseas operations and homeland defense. Nearly 2,700 people participated in virtual and live training, combat operations, and leadership development. I’m proud of this program and the ways it’s equipping our defense and bolstering our readiness.

 

Because of the men and women who serve, our United States continues to be a shining beacon of freedom to the world. As Commander in Chief for our South Dakota National Guard, I’m committed to enhancing the readiness and success of our airmen and soldiers. They are the best asset our state has in protecting our liberties. I will continue to support them.

 

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