News Center

May 26th, 2011

Gronstal’s Nightmare Challenger

By Kevin Hall

Mike Gronstal’s reign of terror over Iowa politics could soon be coming to an end.  A potential contender with impeccable credentials has emerged to take on the Senate Majority Leader in the 2012 election.  Retired Air Force Colonel Al Ringgenberg says he plans to make a final decision on whether or not to run against Gronstal within the next week.

“First of all, I feel a calling,” Ringgenberg told  “It’s something that I feel spiritually.  It’s something that I feel strongly about after hearing from other people in the community, from church goers, from people I know.  And the name of Mike Gronstal keeps coming up.  As it has, I’ve done some digging on some issues he’s taken in the legislature.  His actions are quite disturbing to me.  Council Bluffs needs someone to represent their ideals and their core values.  Senator Gronstal does not do that.”

Ringgenberg says Gronstal’s recent actions regarding a bill banning late term abortions in Iowa reflect the senator’s true intentions.  Instead of allowing the senate to vote on the bill, as Gronstal promised, Democrats offered an alternative which would still allow late term abortions in the state.  However, the bill would make it more difficult for Leroy Carhart to open his late term abortion mill in Council Bluffs.

“It was very much a political maneuver,” Ringgenberg said.  “The senate bill was intended to save his career and had very little to do with late term abortion.  The house bill was right on target.  It deserved a vote.  26 senators signed a petition and wanted a vote on the bill and he went out of his way to ignore that and even try to block it.  That’s reprehensible.”

Ringgenberg says he lives “just a few hundred yards” outside the senate district, but will move his home if he decides to challenge Gronstal.  Ringgenberg and his family are “still exploring, still in prayer” on the decision.

Here is Col. Ringgenberg’s very impressive bio:

Al Ringgenberg began taking on challenges at a young age.  Just after turning age 14, Al became an Eagle Scout.  He was also the captain of his Perry High School debate team.

In 1976, Al entered into an accelerated study program at Drake University.  After just three years, Al was awarded his bachelors degree Magna Cum Laude, with a double major in political science and history.  In 1982, he received a Juris Doctor degree from the Drake University Law School.

1982 was a busy year for Al.  That same year, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant through the Air Force ROTC program at Iowa State University.  Shortly thereafter, Al married his bride, the former Jacquelyn Walden, of Marshalltown, Iowa.

Al entered into active duty with the U.S. Air Force early in 1983.  He was quickly certified as an experienced trial counsel.   Captain Ringgenberg logged nearly 100 courts-martial over a five-year period.  As a prosecutor, he earned a reputation for winning tough sentences, while not losing a single case.

Following assignments in California, South Dakota, Arizona, and Texas, Major Ringgenberg was selected to attend the U.S. Air Force Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.  There, his Air Force career would take a change in direction.  With encouragement from his classmates, combat veterans fresh from Operation Desert Storm, Major Ringgenberg took on challenging new roles involving international law and military operations law.

Following an assignment at U.S. Strategic Command, at Offutt Air Force Base, Lieutenant Colonel Ringgenberg, Jackie, and their two young boys were shipped off to Ramstein Air Base in Germany.  During a very busy assignment, Lieutenant Colonel Ringgenberg, was twice deployed, participated in two military campaigns, and negotiated multiple military agreements between the Air Force, NATO allies, and other militaries in the region.

Following Operation Allied Force, Al was promoted to the rank of Colonel.  He was once again separated by duty from his bride and sons, and was assigned in early 2001 as the senior legal advisor to the Headquarters of the NATO Stabilization Force in Sarajevo, Bosnia.  There, Colonel Ringgenberg helped to track down and arrest war criminals from the civil war and genocide in Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, and throughout the former Yugoslavia.  During his tenure, the list of war criminals turned over for justice included the former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic.

Just days after the attacks on September 11, 2001, Colonel Ringgenberg was detailed to a newly formed Joint Interagency Task Force that was directed against extremists using Muslim safe-havens within Bosnia.  In that role, Colonel Ringgenberg gained a close working relationship with a newly assigned Brigadier General David Petraeus.  Task Force operations netted extremists and intelligence that would later prove invaluable in the U.S. war on terror.

Reunited with his family, Colonel Ringgenberg relocated to Washington D.C. in 2002 for a brief assignment as an appellate judge.  Soon, however, the war on terror would call Colonel Ringgenberg to the Pentagon, still recovering from the attacks on September 11.  Assigned to the staff of the Secretary of Defense, Colonel Ringgenberg became an Associate Deputy General Counsel for International Law.  In that role, he was detailed to joint Defense Department and State Department team, lead by then Deputy Undersecretary of State John Bolton.  The job of that senior-level team was to negotiate international agreements to protect U.S. personnel engaged in the global war against terrorism.  That team successfully concluded over agreements with over 100 nations; a milestone that Ambassador Bolton would call “The most satisfying achievement of my career.”

In 2004, Colonel Ringgenberg retired from active duty so that Jackie and he could care for their special-needs son.  They opted to return back to their Iowa roots, buying a home in Council Bluffs.  Still contributing to the nation’s defense, Colonel Ringgenberg accepted a civil service position at the U.S. Strategic Command.  Today, Colonel Ringgenberg serves as a contract employee.  Currently, he writes strategic and military risk assessments on behalf of the Commander, U.S. Strategic Command.  Those reports are relied upon by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, informing key defense guidance and decisions that impact the nation’s strategic military capabilities.

Colonel Ringgenberg has participated in multiple military campaigns to include Operations Just Cause, Desert Shield, Southern Watch, Northern Watch, Allied Force, Noble Anvil, Joint Forge, Resolute Eagle, and Enduring Freedom.

His military awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, two Joint Service Meritorious Service Medals, and four Air Force Meritorious Service Medals.

Today, Al and Jackie Ringgenberg remain engaged in a number of church and community activities in the Council Bluffs area, and participate

Enhanced by Zemanta

About the Author

Kevin Hall
Kevin Hall brings almost two decades of journalistic experience to TheIowaRepublican. Starting in college as a radio broadcaster, Hall eventually became a television anchor/reporter for stations in North Carolina, Missouri, and Iowa. During the 2007 caucus cycle, Hall changed careers and joined the political realm. He was the northwest Iowa field director for Fred Thompson's presidential campaign. Hall helped Terry Branstad return to the governor's office by organizing southwest Iowa for Branstad's 2010 campaign. Hall serves as a reporter/columnist for

blog comments powered by Disqus