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S.D. National Guard Leading the Nation
By: Matt Michels, Lt. Governor - 07/09/2018

One of the greatest honors of serving as lieutenant governor is getting to work with the South Dakota National Guard. Our Guard members are some of the most dedicated, capable and reliable men and women I know. Under Adjutant General Tim Reisch's leadership, we have an exceptional group of soldiers and airmen serving our nation and state.

The latest example of the SDNG's reputation of excellence came last month, when we heard that South Dakota continues to lead the nation in unit readiness. The SD Army National Guard received 30 of the 31 Superior Unit Awards from the National Guard Bureau. Though we make up only 9/10 of a percent of the nation's National Guard, we earned almost all of the awards for 2017. That's pretty impressive!

The Superior Unit Award is presented to units who meet highly-enforced military standards in the areas of personnel, training and readiness. Units must achieve 95 percent in unit strength, monthly drill attendance, annual training attendance and weapons qualification, as well as 90 percent in physical fitness tests and duty-qualified soldiers. Unit administration and maintenance inspections are also a factor. We can be proud that so many of South Dakota's units met this rigorous set of standards.

A number of units have received this distinction in previous years. Six units received the award for the second time in a row, four units for a third straight year, four units for four consecutive years, four more for five consecutive years, and the 211th Engineer Company of Madison and De Smet has earned the designation six years in a row now. Additionally, the 114th Fighter Wing has been one of the top five flying units in the nation for the past four years in a row.

This past week we celebrated the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Our forefathers declared that every individual is born free with inalienable rights, and that government must respect those God-given rights and allow people to live freely. But ideas do not deserve the sole credit for our way of life here in America. Rather, it is those ideas coupled with the sacrifices made by Americans who wear the uniform. We can be grateful the SD National Guard is so well prepared to answer the call to defend our freedoms.

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