The year 2020 will be remembered as the ”Year of the Guard” by many senior Guard officials.

“So far, in 2020, the National Guard has mobilized more Guard members, for longer, than at any time since World War II,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Devin Robinson, director of public affairs for the Air National Guard, in a statement emailed to Military Times on Dec. 9.

The coming year stands to be a busy year, too, according to data from Army officials and National Guard Bureau officials. The Guard will be utilized extensively both at home and abroad, despite the shrinking number of troops directly involved in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“For the first half of 2021, approximately 16,000 Guard members will mobilize [on Title 10 orders]” to support the active-duty military, said Army Master Sgt. Sean McCollum, a spokesperson for First Army. This would put the Guard on pace to surpass 2020′s 31,110 troops mobilized under Title 10.

The National Guard’s COVID-19 response mission continues, too. Twenty thousand Guard troops remained activated for pandemic-related missions as of Dec. 14, according to Nahaku McFadden, NGB’s media operations chief. That number may increase as at least 26 states utilize their Guard to assist with vaccine distribution.

The usual suspects for Guard activations like weather and wildfires aren’t going anywhere, either. Phil Klotzbach, a hurricane expert at Colorado State University, told Military Times that he expects an “above average” 2021 Atlantic hurricane season.

Davis Winkie covers the Army for Military Times. He studied history at Vanderbilt and UNC-Chapel Hill, and served five years in the Army Guard. His investigations earned the Society of Professional Journalists' 2023 Sunshine Award and consecutive Military Reporters and Editors honors, among others. Davis was also a 2022 Livingston Awards finalist.

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