I want to give a firsthand account of what our Guardsman did during the civil unrest in Minnesota specifically. I don’t want to give propaganda. I don’t want to give false information. I want to highlight how well our organization did during this historic time in our Country.
The Call of the First Activated
Don’t forget, guardsman were already activated in response to COVID-19 during this time. https://gatdaily.com/the-national-guard-and-covid-19/
On Thursday, May 28th 2020, Governor Walz activated over 500 National Guardsman to “help protect Minnesota and maintain peace” https://kstp.com/news/minnesota-national-guard-activated-to-control-protests-following-george-floyds-death/5743967/.
That Wednesday prior, our Field Maintenance Shops already started generating plans on the “What If” certain battalions were activated. How many full time technicians would be on shift, for how long, what if recovery missions of vehicles came up, etc. We knew it would be the Military Police that first got called due to the type of situation happening. Then on Thursday, after they were activated, our 24 hour rotations of support started.
The news stated that these 500 guardsman were ready by that night, standing by where needed. That is 100% true! When guardsmen are activated in a role like this, they take “all commands from the tower” that tower being law enforcement. The Soldiers were ready, just didn’t know where they were to be put. I’ll talk more about that in a second
The Second Call
Saturday morning everyone got the call. Governor Walz made a decision that hasn’t happened since the start of the Minnesota National Guard in 1856. He chose to activate the entire National Guard, both Army and Air Force.
Quick to Mobilize
Let’s put this into perspective, what it really means for only a battalion to mobilize let alone an entire state.
My battalion was told to show up around 2 PM that day. I told my Soldiers to show up as early as they could.
- Soldiers have to be signed in.
- Vehicles had to be dispatched, fueled, and staged. Which also means a fuel point needs to be set up.
- Pro(tective) masks had to be drawn. Every Soldier needs to sign for and receive a pro mask and other equipment individually.
- Weapons need to be drawn. Optics and all accessories included.
- Night Vision Drawn.
- Ammo issued.
- Gear inspected by leadership.
- Then the drive to where we were placed in Minneapolis.
For my company specifically all of these things happened in under 4 hours.
My whole Battalion made it to Minneapolis by that night.
This is what all of that training for quick set ups, tear downs, and moves to different training areas are for. To be able to react and move as quickly as possible when called.
This is the first time that our state has ever had to do something like this. When the first 500 Soldiers showed up and the news stated that “they were ready and standing by”. It was true. We need to have a mission, and that mission will be dictated by the umbrella that we fall under. The information all has to bleed down to the lowest of leadership for things to happen. Some of the Law Enforcement in the state was also at the start of their reactions at the time of the full state being activated. Plans needed to be pushed out for us to work together.
When the National Guard is activated in this type of capacity they are told strictly to only react if a LEO gives the order to. Even so far as stopping someone from looting, we need to be told, state LE has final command and control. By Saturday afternoon and that night there were already various units running missions with Law Enforcement. By Sunday morning my battalion specifically had our missions pushed out.
We ran presence patrols with various law enforcement departments. We posted in front of the capital and other buildings with LE. We ran missions to push out food, water, and fuel to LE, air guard, and our Soldiers. We supported the STATE in all true forms of the word.
We placed Soldiers downtown on foot. We were strictly told that we aren’t here to interrupt anyone’s life, so stay off the sidewalks and just be aware of what is going on around you. We were there if anything did happen. Not to escalate things into happening.
It also gave us a chance to talk with the community if they so chose. Many were curious about what was going on and what our place was.
This was a surreal time for everyone. Being in a residential area with a massive Palletized Load System (PLS) dropping off ice. Seeing our Soldiers drive around in HMMWV trucks that they bring on deployments. Walking around sidewalks with loaded weapons that just months prior we were walking around on with groceries. It was weird, and I can only imagine how it felt for citizens that have never been around military.
The Effect and Feedback
All politics aside, the effect of having the guard downtown was huge. I had personal messages from LEO’s stating how much better it felt to have them around, not to mention how much more of an effect it was in maintaining the peace and keeping our buildings and homes safe. There is power in numbers and types of entities that respond.
Our ability to work with other entities has increased substantially. IF something like this does happen again, we are ready to do better, react even quicker, and perform to a higher level.
Thank you, Guard
When I first received the call on that Saturday I was in Iowa about to shoot a National Rifle League match. We all knew that the call COULD come, we just didn’t know when. Without hesitation I drove home, packed a bag, and drove up to Camp Ripley where we were mobilizing from. Many many soldiers had the same experience. They had lives going on, they had plans, events they were attending, family they were caring for. Yet their home was on fire and the call came asking for their help. They all showed up, to protect their home. Protect their home and the people who make it a home. Every Soldier and Airman was needed during that week. Every Soldier and Airman’s mission was important. That call is something that may never happen again in a National Guardsman’s life. It is now a piece in history and they were a part of it.
Thanks for showing up guys.
Minnesota thanks you.