The adjutant general of the Iowa National Guard says he is focused on keeping up recruiting and training as the state prepares to deploy more soldiers overseas.
Currently, about 100 soldiers and airmen are mobilized with U.S. forces. Speaking before Gov. Kim Reynolds and state lawmakers Thursday, Iowa Guard Maj. Gen. Benjamin Corell said he expects around 2,000 more to deploy in 2020 with units supporting command centers in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
“This will be the largest number of our personnel deployed since 2011, involving nearly 30 percent of our Iowa Army National Guard force structure,” Corell said, adding that the deployments will likely begin in May and continue through early next year. “We know that the people of Iowa, its elected leaders and the institutions across this state will again step forward to support our men and women in uniform as we execute what our nation has asked us to do.”
At the same time, he said, it has become more difficult to attract new soldiers because of low unemployment and competition from other military branches. He said some neighboring states even offer bonus incentives to out-of-state recruits.
Corell said the Iowa Guard will work on keeping pay and education benefits competitive. He also said he will increase racial diversity among the Guard’s leadership to help improve recruiting in minority communities.
“We have to demonstrate to our diverse communities that they are represented in leadership positions within the National Guard,” Corell said. “This will be a long process with deliberate management efforts to grow the future leaders who are reflective of the changing demographics of our state.”
Corell said the Guard is also working to upgrade its facilities across the state. A new National Guard Readiness Center will be dedicated in Davenport in April, replacing one of the oldest armories in the state. But other locations could be closed, Corell said, if the buildings are obsolete or they no longer support a sustainable number of service members.