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Staff sergeant Ryan Thorson works on the tail of an HH-60M Black Hawk medevac helicopter inside the South Dakota National Guard aircraft hangers at the Rapid City Regional Airport recently. The National Guard is planning a $20 million expansion at the airport for a new readiness center.

Rapid City will be getting roughly 160 more soldiers because of a realignment by the South Dakota Army National Guard. 

The Guard is planning a structural change that will deactivate three units, activate three new units — including two in Rapid City — and relocate another six units across the state. 

The Guard expects to increase its overall force from 3,012 to 3,097, adding 85 soldier positions with the structural realignment. 

A press release sent Monday said the changes will begin next year and optimize the Guard's "organizational readiness and capabilities to respond to state and federal missions."

The Guard plans to deactivate the 139th Brigade Support Battalion based in Brookings, Company A, 139th BSB in Watertown and Company B, 139th BSB in Mitchell.

Major Anthony Deiss, director of public affairs for the South Dakota National Guard, said in a phone interview Monday every soldier from a unit that closes will still have a job. He said the state will hold a job fair of sorts to help soldiers in the closing units find jobs with other units or reclassify them to perform different tasks that match their skill set. 

The 109th Engineer Battalion and a Forward Support Company to be based in Rapid City and the 665th Surface Maintenance Company in Mitchell will be the new units activated as part of the structural changes. 

Deiss said positions for new units will be made up first of soldiers from other units, but there will be some opportunity to add new people. 

"We will plan for and implement these changes to ensure we maintain a high state of readiness with the right mix of capabilities across the state," said Major General Tim Reisch, adjutant general of the SDNG, in the release. 

The majority of the changes are expected to be completed by September 2020.

Scheduled unit relocations will take place for the following units: 152nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion from Pierre to Brookings; 115th Signal Company from Brookings to Sioux Falls; 155th Engineer Company from Rapid City to Wagner; Detachment 1, 155th Engineer Company from Wagner to Parkston; Detachment 1, 153rd Forward Support Company from Parkston to Huron; Detachment 1, 211th Engineer Company from De Smet to Madison.

With the unit changes, the Guard also plans to the close the armory in De Smet.

"It is with genuine sadness that we will be relocating from De Smet — a community that has supported the National Guard in a truly outstanding manner for decades," Reisch said. "We will continue to maintain our ties to De Smet through recruiting and support of community events, and there will be no change in our ability to respond to their needs should an emergency occur."


SEE PHOTOS: SD National Guard aircraft maintenance

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