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SD Guard recruits despite furloughs, budget cuts

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news Mitchell, 57301

Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

RAPID CITY (AP) — The South Dakota Army National Guard is recruiting new members even as its full-time soldiers are required to take furloughs because of federal budget cuts.

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Lt. Col. Kory Knight, who heads the Recruiting and Retention Command, told the Rapid City Journal that the Guard still needs people to join.

"With all the national level talk of budget cuts, furloughs and possible troop reductions across the different services, I think it has created a false impression among prospective recruits and the general public that the Guard doesn't need new members," he said.

National Guard officials said they have about 60 positions to fill in the next month.

The 842nd Engineering Company in the northern Black Hills has 20 positions open for part-time soldiers who typically train on weekends, said Staff Sgt. Vanessa Powles, the unit's recruiting officer.

"I've got 12 hard slots, but I'd say we could take 20 people," Powles said. "The majority of those are heavy equipment operators."

The Defense Department has not decided to reduce the overall size of the Army and Air National Guard, which has approximately 463,700 members nationwide. About 4,300 of the nation's Guard members are in South Dakota.

Staff Sgt. Katie Lindwurm, a recruiter for the South Dakota Army National Guard, said the Guard is looking to fill a variety of positions from public affairs to technicians.

Senior Master Sgt. Brian Voges, the Air Guard's recruiting and retention superintendent, said airmen leaving the service are creating many of the openings.

"We have 10 more projected losses for the remainder of the year, so we need approximately 22 more enlistments to reach 100 percent manning," he said.

The Air Guard typically loses about eight members per month, he said, so it would need to meet or exceed that number to stay at or above 100 percent.

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