Good Reason To Be Proud Of The SDNG
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:
If you live out west or near Chamberlain, you may have noticed more individuals in uniform over the last week. That’s because the South Dakota National Guard is currently in the middle of its annual Golden Coyote training exercise. In its 33rd year, the exercise is held to prepare military members for overseas contingency operations and homeland defense.
Thirty military units with soldiers from 13 states, one U.S. territory and four foreign countries are participating in the two-week training. The 2,400 service members who are involved serve in the Army, Navy and Air Force, as well as the National Guard.
Through the exercise, the SDNG is providing service to the public. For the tenth year in a row, the National Guard and reserve soldiers are conducting a timber haul humanitarian mission. They are using hydraulic excavators to load timber onto trucks for delivery to members of the Pine Ridge, Rosebud, Standing Rock, Cheyenne River and Crow Creek tribes. This not only provides tribes with wood to use for heating, but gives soldiers experience in finding and delivering supplies – a job soldiers routinely perform overseas.
I am proud of the South Dakota National Guard for leading this successful operation each year, and also for continuously distinguishing itself.
I recently received word that South Dakota is leading the country in unit readiness. The National Guard Bureau annually designates “Superior Units” based upon personnel strength, meeting high training requirements and receiving excellent marks during inspections. This year, only 35 Army National Guard units in the nation earned this distinction: two from Iowa, 10 from Virginia and 23 from South Dakota. In total, the SDNG makes up nine-tenths of a percent of the nation’s Army National Guard. Yet, our units earned 66 percent of the Superior Unit Awards for training year 2016 – a truly incredible accomplishment.
And that’s not all. The SD Army National Guard was recently named the overall winner of the Army Communities of Excellence competition. This award recognizes performance excellence within U.S. Army, National Guard and Reserve installations and communities and their approach to systems management. After finishing runner-up last year, they outdid every other state in the nation this year, bringing home $100,000 to push organizational excellence even higher.
We have good reason to be proud of our soldiers and airmen. For over 155 years, this leading force has been dedicated to serving the citizens of South Dakota and the nation. They are among the most dedicated, capable, and reliable men and women I’ve ever known.