Michigan National Guard
Story by Capt. Andrew Layton
LANSING, Mich. – Over the past 12 months, the Michigan National Guard has set records within the state with its support for a broad range of missions. In 2020, the men and women of the Michigan National Guard were there, time and time again to support their fellow Michiganders, from providing COVID-19 relief and assisting with recovery after 500-year floods, to standing by as a peaceful presence while unrest threatened the safety of Michigan cities.
What seemed implausible after the high operations tempo of 2020 has already become a reality: just over one month into a new year, more than 1,300 additional Soldiers and Airmen have been activated for domestic support missions in 2021; nearly as many as in all of 2020 combined. Incredibly, the men and women of the Michigan National Guard have accomplished this while maintaining their baseline deployment requirements and exercise support.
“More than any other time in our state’s history, the men and woman of the Michigan National Guard are continually proving themselves as an invaluable source of compassion and reassurance to their fellow Michiganders,” said Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “They are truly a part of the fabric of our communities and I could not be prouder of how they constantly innovate new ways to make their diverse expertise part of the solution for the challenges our state and nation face.”
Beginning Jan. 24, the Michigan National Guard deployed about three hundred additional members to amplify its support for COVID-19 vaccination and testing efforts, as well as food bank operations across the state. This brings the total number of MING members on COVID-19 relief missions to nearly 600. Since Jan. 1, these men and women have provided nearly 70,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, about 6,000 COVID-19 tests, and millions of pounds of food to Michigan residents.
In addition to the COVID-19 response mission, almost 700 members of the Michigan National Guard were activated to join other Guard personnel from Washington D.C., Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and other states to provide additional security and traffic control around the U.S. Capitol, National Mall and the White House during the presidential inauguration on Jan. 20. About 1,000 members of the Michigan National Guard returned to the National Capitol Region on Jan. 28, where they continue to augment U.S. Capitol police.
“We are here to help whenever we are asked,” said Maj. Gen. Paul Rogers, Adjutant General and Director of Michigan’s Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. “From the city of Detroit to the far reaches of the Upper Peninsula, our Soldiers and Airmen have the right values, the right training, and the right equipment to serve as a source of reassurance and expertise alongside our interagency partners wherever and whenever we are requested.”
The Michigan National Guard’s presence has not just been felt during challenging times stateside. A total of 2,098 Michigan National Guard members were deployed in 2020 to locations including U.S. Central Command, Pacific Command, Africa Command, U.S. Army North, and the U.S. Southwest border. In February 2021, there are still more than 1,000 members of the Michigan National Guard serving in far-reaching corners of the globe, making extraordinary sacrifices away from home in support of our National Defense Strategy.
Michigan has also kept up its crucial role in allowing other organizations from around the Department of Defense maintain their own deployment readiness with its pristine training facilities at the National All-Domain Warfighting Center in Northern Michigan. This 148,000-acre facility, which combines the resources of Camp Grayling Maneuver Training Center and Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, hosted exercise “Winter Strike” during the last week of January. Part of the Michigan National Guard’s signature Northern Strike exercise series, this event is designed to challenge training audiences across multiple forms of convergence that advance interoperability with multicomponent, multinational, and interagency partners. Officially known as Northern Strike 21-1/”Winter Strike,” the exercise welcomed hundreds of personnel from several states and reserve and active duty components, using a comprehensive risk mitigation plan to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Though the men and women of the Michigan National Guard have never been busier, Rogers offers every assurance that with the experience and momentum they continue to generate, capacity exists to accept and support even more new missions in the immediate future.
“This is an organization of more than 11,000 incredible individuals who each bring their own unique perspectives and experience to the table,” he said. “As amazed as I am by the results we have achieved together, I sincerely believe there is no limit to the potential we have yet to realize – and if anyone out there wants to join us, I can assure you there’s always room for one more on this team.”