By Maj. Gen. Steve Danner
Missouri National Guard
The year 2013 tested the resilience of the Missouri National Guard in ways we have not seen before, but thanks to the professionalism of our force and the support of our communities and civilian leadership, we are going into 2014 as an even stronger organization.
This year, our Guardsmen continued to meet their dual mission deploying overseas to support federal war efforts and mobilizing stateside to assist civil authorities in times of natural disasters. Our formation also found itself dealing with economic challenges that we had never faced before. In all three cases, your Missouri National Guard performed excellently, sacrificing nobly to meet their mission.
More than 1,500 Missouri National Guard Soldiers and Airmen were deployed around the world in 2013. These Guardsmen put their Families and civilian careers on hold to do their duty, and by all accounts have done our nation proud.
At home, Gov. Jay Nixon, our commander-in-chief, mobilized the Guard for two state emergency missions. In spring and summer, our modern Missouri minutemen mobilized to help communities in eastern and central Missouri combat flooding. As a testament to the professionalism of our force, the Colorado National Guard requested assistance from a Missouri National Guard team as they fought record flooding in late summer.
We also faced the challenges brought on by sequestration and the government shutdown. Our dual status technicians were the only uniformed military personnel to face furloughs as a result of sequestration and the shutdown, but worked diligently to ensure our readiness was not diminished.
Indeed, today the Missouri National Guard is in an outstanding position to face future challenges. Our strength and readiness is at record levels. Going into December, our Air National Guard was at 103 percent strength, and the Army National Guard was at 107. Our personnel readiness has never been higher, and our force is the most seasoned and experienced in our history. That is why our nation continues to call on the Missouri Guard to serve around the globe in Afghanistan, Kuwait and Kosovo.
Missouri also hit another strength benchmark when the 131st Bomb Wing passed its Initial Nuclear Surety Inspection in August. Our Missouri Airmen, working with their active duty counterparts in the 509th Bomb Wing, are now responsible for our nation’s most visible, powerful deterrent.
As those Guardsmen and their Families continue to sacrifice for our nation, the great state of Missouri, under Gov. Nixon’s leadership, continues to support our Veterans. Gov. Nixon’s Show Me Heroes program has helped more than 5,000 Veterans find jobs. The Show Me Heroes program and the outstanding tireless support our commander-in-chief have made the Missouri National Guard an example for our nation.
As we look forward to 2014, we will not rest on our laurels. We will continue to push ourselves to be better. We have an ambitious training schedule for the year, and our Soldiers and Airmen will continue to deploy around the world and stand ready at home.
Finally, on behalf of our 11,500 Soldiers and Airmen, I want to wish you Happy Holidays and thank you for your support. God bless you, and God bless America.
By Maj. Gen. Steve Danner