In the Minnesota National Guard, our people truly are our most important resources. Without our Soldiers, Airmen and civilian employees, our organization would not be able to consistently meet our state and federal missions. Each of our more than 13,000 members are valuable and contribute to the success of the organization.
We take pride in our efforts to promote diversity and inclusion within our force. The percentage of individuals in our organization who identify as ethnic minority continues to be in line with or above the demographic representation of Minnesota.
In 2018, the Minnesota National Guard hosted its fourth annual leadership development event to promote diversity and inclusion throughout the organization. More than 300 members of the Minnesota Army and Air National Guard attended the 2018 Women’s Leadership Forum at Boston Scientific in September. The event focused on encouraging all members to join the conversation and promote an inclusive climate.
This year, the Minnesota National Guard worked with Lavender Magazine, a LGBTQ publication in Minnesota, to highlight diverse individuals within our organization and reach out to the LGBTQ population in Minnesota.
The Minnesota National Guard has led the way in recruiting by consistently meeting recruiting goals for the last 18 years. In 2018, 1,550 individuals enlisted into the Minnesota Army National Guard.
In addition to meeting our recruiting goals, we are bringing in young people who represent the best that Minnesota has to offer. This year, 32 of our young Soldiers were named honor graduates in Basic Combat Training and nine held the honor of distinguished honor graduate. In Advanced Individual Training, 58 Minnesota Soldiers earned the title of honor graduate and 26 distinguished honor graduate.
Not only do we consistently man our units each year, but we also ensure the Soldiers and Airmen in our formations maintain their personal readiness. The Minnesota Army National Guard is currently ranked ninth in the nation for medical readiness. As of November 2018, 90.68 percent of the Minnesota Army National Guard is medically deployable.
Our Soldiers and Airmen are dedicated to our three enduring missions: responding to our state during times of disaster or crisis, supporting global operations as a branch of the U.S. military and maintaining positive relationships with the communities in which we serve.
At the request of the city of Minneapolis, the Minnesota National Guard provided more than 400 Guardsmen to support security operations for Super Bowl LII earlier this year. The Guardsmen provided direct support to and worked alongside law enforcement officers from across the state to ensure a safe experience for residents and visitors attending Super Bowl festivities.
Locally, the Minnesota National Guard provided relief to stranded motorists during severe weather in early 2018 by opening armories in Clay, Steele and Rock counties. The armories provided temporary shelter for travelers when roads were unpassable.
In August, the Minnesota National Guard’s 34th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade provided support to Beltrami county, Minnesota, for wildfire suppression. A UH-60 Black Hawk and a CH-47 Chinook helicopter conducted water bucket operations, helping to contain the fire.
In 2018, the Minnesota National Guard also supported domestic response operations for Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Michael. One CH-47 Chinook helicopter and a crew of five flew eight missions in North Carolina, transporting personnel and equipment in support of Hurricane Florence response efforts in September. Additionally, the Minnesota National Guard sent more than $36,428 in medical supplies from our medical warehouse at Camp Ripley to the North Carolina Army National Guard for use in response efforts. In October, the Minnesota National Guard sent one CH-47 Chinook helicopter and a crew of six to Florida to assist with Hurricane Michael response.
Our Soldiers and Airmen supported operations around the world this year. More than 900 Soldiers from nine units and more than 500 Airmen deployed in support of operations in the Middle East alongside our active duty counterparts. An additional 700 Soldiers are scheduled to deploy in the coming year.
Our Soldiers, Airmen, and civilian employees are our most important resources. We will train, coach, and mentor for our future through four imperatives: first, we must engage our diverse force through effective, leader-driven retention and recruiting; next, our team must be trained, ethical leaders who understand the many opportunities for professional and personal growth; third, our families will be supported by robust community based services and programs; and finally, our formations are trained and educated to accomplish global and local missions.