March 01, 2022

Amid Ukraine Crisis, Duckworth Announces Illinois National Guard Commander as State of the Union Virtual Guest


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Combat Veteran and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), member of the U.S. Armed Services Committee (SASC) and a Purple Heart recipient who served 23 years in the Reserve Forces, announced that she will bring the Adjutant General of Illinois and Commander of the Illinois National Guard Major General Rich Neely as her virtual guest to tonight’s State of the Union address. As the Commander of the Illinois National Guard (ILNG), Major General Neely is responsible for the critical role the ILNG plays in helping train troops in places like Ukraine and Poland.

“I’m honored to have General Neely as my virtual guest for this year’s State of the Union,” Duckworth said. “As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine escalates, the role of the Illinois National Guard remains critical for the region, which I know is so important to many Polish and Ukrainian Americans in our state. The Illinois National Guard’s State Partnership Program with Poland has been a success for decades, but this partnership’s importance has reached new levels now that Putin is threatening the entire region.”

“It is a great honor to represent the 13,000 members of the Illinois National Guard as Senator Duckworth’s virtual guest at the President’s State of the Union address,” said Maj. Gen. Neely. “The Illinois National Guard has enjoyed a State Partnership with Poland since 1993 and we can see the importance of that partnership on the news every day as our allies in Poland respond to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. We also have played an important role in training Ukraine’s military as those brave men and women now fight for their freedom.” 

Since 1993, ILNG has facilitated a State Partnership Program with the Polish Armed Forces, one of 22 European partnerships that make up the U.S. European Command State Partnership Program. This successful partnership helped Poland emerge from the Warsaw Pact to become a member of NATO and one of the United States’ staunchest allies. In addition, Illinois Army National Guard troops have co-deployed with Poland on every Polish rotation to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003.

ILNG troops have also helped train Ukrainian Soldiers, with 165 guard members from the Illinois Army National Guard’s 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team in 2021 advising and mentoring the Ukrainian cadre at Combat Training Center-Yavoriv in Ukraine to improve Ukraine’s training capacity and defense capabilities.