The past two years have been extremely busy for the National Guard — and that’s an understatement.
In 2020, a combination of natural disasters, civil disturbances, election support, COVID-19 pandemic response and federal deployments saw the National Guard used more and for longer than any time period since World War II.
Then 2021 kicked off with 26,000 Guard troops standing watch in Washington, D.C., in response to the Jan. 6 insurrection. Tens of thousands more Guard troops participated in overseas operations, wildfire response, pandemic response and other state missions.
Troops from the Minnesota National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 194th Armor Regiment, also played a pivotal role in securing the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, during the chaotic evacuation there in August.
And it looks like the Guard will stay busy into 2022.
As of Dec. 13, 2021, approximately 28,690 Guard troops are deployed overseas, and an additional 16,650 are activated for domestic missions, said NGB spokesperson Wayne Hall. The latter count does not include the thousands of Guard troops currently activated under state authority or troops at the southern border on Title 10 orders, Hall added.
President Joe Biden extended the Title 32 authorization allowing Guard troops to continue on pandemic response with funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency through at least April 1.
Guard troops will also remain stationed along the U.S.-Mexico border throughout 2021.
Up to 3,000 will be there through at least Sept. 31 as part of a Pentagon-directed mission to support Customs and Border Protection, and thousands more are currently activated under state authority in Texas for “Operation Lone Star.” It’s not clear exactly how many Texas troops are activated, nor how long their mission will last.
It also appears that the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season, a primary source of state missions, will have an above average amount of storms, according to researchers from Colorado State University.
Senior Army leaders have also said that the end of the war in Afghanistan won’t slow down the pace of overseas deployments. National Guard troops remained deployed to the Middle East, Africa and Europe.
Davis Winkie is a senior reporter covering the Army, specializing in accountability reporting, personnel issues and military justice. He joined Military Times in 2020. Davis studied history at Vanderbilt University and UNC-Chapel Hill, writing a master's thesis about how the Cold War-era Defense Department influenced Hollywood's WWII movies.