- Associated Press - Monday, November 9, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The head of the Iowa National Guard said Monday that he is hoping to increase the number of women in the ranks.

Major General Timothy Orr said that he will sign a pledge to recruit and retain more women as part of campaign by a women’s business group in Iowa.

Orr said that female roles in the military are expanding, noting a recent Army decision to open field artillery jobs to women. He said two women have already enlisted into an artillery unit in northwest Iowa.

Currently about 18 percent of Iowa’s Air National Guard and 15 percent of Iowa’s Army National Guard is female - or about 16 percent of the nearly 9,000 members total. The participation rate is similar to the national military.

Orr said he’d like to double those numbers.

“I think really the sky’s the limit. There’s really a lot of opportunity,” Orr said. “We’re now able to open the whole book up and show them opportunities in all our units, and I think that’s significant.”

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad said that men and women get leadership experience in the military that “I think prepares them for other positions.”

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