To the Citizens of Minnesota:
With more than 500 citizen-Soldiers and -Airmen deployed overseas in 2015, the last year showcased the versatility and relevance of your Minnesota National Guard. Whether in Kuwait, Afghanistan or Egypt, your National Guard continued a well-earned tradition of excellence.
On the home front, our men and women performed admirably when called upon by the governor. Well-trained aviators and crews were dispatched to assist local authorities to fight wildfires here in Minnesota, as well as in Western states. When avian influenza threatened the stateâ€™s poultry industry, Minnesota National Guard troops were called upon to assist in the logistics of stemming the outbreak.
2015 was a year when we sharpened our skills through a major statewide exercise â€“ Vigilant Guard. More than 1,400 military participants joined nearly 500 others from state, federal and local emergency management agencies to develop strategies for a coordinated response to simulated disasters across the state, such as severe weather and an oil train derailment.
This year placed an emphasis on diversity, ensuring that our military force reflects the communities in which we serve. During the last four years our recruiting efforts have resulted in nearly doubling the number of racial, ethnic and gender diverse members in our formation; and in 2015, 27 percent of new recruits were from diverse populations. In April we held our first-ever Joint Female Professional Development Symposium, showcasing opportunities for women.
Looking ahead to 2016, we expect another busy year. Our 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team culminating two years of training at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, for a large-scale exercise. The 34th Red Bull Infantry Division Headquarters will continue to prepare for major exercises such as Cooperative Resolve in Asia, Talisman Sabre in Australia and Yama Sakura in Japan; and other Army and Air National Guard units are awaiting confirmation on upcoming deployments.
There are three legislative priorities in 2016. First, we need to find an alternative to sequestration and automatic spending cuts which would result in a loss of readiness for both domestic and overseas missions. Next, we urge Congress to look at a potentially negative item in the current National Defense Authorization Act. There is a provision that would allow non-military federal civil servants to be placed into jobs throughout the National Guard. We believe that would harm the readiness of our units. Finally, we want to continue to develop our force structure so we can meet emerging threats, in particular cyber security and response.
2016 will be the 160th anniversary of the founding of the Minnesota National Guard. Even before Minnesota was a state, men and women have stepped up to serve our state and nation. Minnesotans should be confident in the competence, values and character of those who serve in the Minnesota Army and Air National Guard. Thank you to all who have come forward in the form of our Yellow Ribbon Networks throughout the state â€“ you are making a difference for our Soldiers and Airmen.
Major General Richard C. Nash
Minnesota National Guard
The Adjutant General