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North Dakota National Guard marks year of COVID-19 response

Spc. Collin Ahmann, North Dakota Army National Guard Medical Detachment, prepares to collect a COVID-19 test specimen at the North Dakota state capitol in Bismarck July 6, 2021. The Guard has supported the state's response to the pandemic since March 16, 2020.

Spc. Collin Ahmann, North Dakota Army National Guard Medical Detachment, prepares to collect a COVID-19 test specimen at the North Dakota state capitol in Bismarck July 6, 2021. The Guard has supported the state's response to the pandemic since March 16, 2020.

Sgt. Chase Bode, left, and Spc. Isaac Bolton of the 816th Military Police Company, North Dakota National Guard, collect data at the COVID-19 mobile testing site inside the Bismarck Event Center in Bismarck, North Dakota, May 2, 2020. The NDNG marked the one-year anniversary of its support of the pandemic response March 16, 2021.

Sgt. Chase Bode, left, and Spc. Isaac Bolton of the 816th Military Police Company, North Dakota National Guard, collect data at the COVID-19 mobile testing site inside the Bismarck Event Center in Bismarck, North Dakota, May 2, 2020. The NDNG marked the one-year anniversary of its support of the pandemic response March 16, 2021.

BISMARCK, N.D. – The North Dakota National Guard marked its one-year anniversary of COVID-19 response operations in support of state and community health agencies. The first North Dakota Guard members were activated for COVID-19 duty on March 16, 2020.

The ongoing pandemic support mission is the largest and longest state mobilization in North Dakota history. On Nov. 19, the North Dakota National Guard logged 67,495 personnel-days – surpassing the previous record of 67,264 personnel-days responding to statewide flooding in 2011. As of March 15, the North Dakota National Guard has logged 97,914 personnel-days of support in this mission.

“We are deeply grateful for the incredible contributions of the men and women of the North Dakota National Guard who have risen to the challenges presented by this historic pandemic,” said Gov. Doug Burgum. “Their dedicated service and support has been critical in our whole-of-government response to this unparalleled threat to public health, and our entire state is thankful.”

Members of the North Dakota National Guard have supported the North Dakota Department of Health and local municipal health agencies. Soldiers and Airmen have planned, conducted and administered traditional and later the BinaxNOW COVID-19 tests at mobile testing sites statewide.

NDNG members have conducted strategic response planning and deep cleaning at long-term and congregate living facilities. Soldiers and Airmen have also trained civilians in the use of BinaxNOW testing, helped with contact tracing, administered COVID-19 vaccines, and aided in the design of prediction models.

Guard members have transported test specimens and provided other support to the state laboratory in Bismarck. Also, Maj. Gen. Al Dohrmann, North Dakota adjutant general, has co-led the state’s Unified Command response to the pandemic.

“I salute our Guard Soldiers, Airmen and civilian employees for their exceptional efforts and unyielding dedication in support of our state and communities during this unprecedented pandemic,” said Dohrmann. “We remain indebted to our families and employers for their understanding and support over the past year. Without them, we would not be successful.”

The NDNG’s other state and federal missions continue despite the pandemic. The Guard recently conducted wildfire and flood response exercises, welcomed Airmen home from overseas duty, mobilized and deployed 70 Soldiers of the Bismarck-based Company C, 2nd Battalion, 285th Aviation Regiment, to the National Capital Region, as well as 150 Soldiers in support of the presidential inauguration.

The North Dakota National Guard conducted Vigilant Guard last summer, an exercise sponsored by U.S. Northern Command with the National Guard Bureau to improve operational relationships with civilian and military partners at the local, state, regional and national levels.

In addition, the Fargo-based 119th Wing has begun its overseas deployment of over 100 Airmen, while about 50 Soldiers of the Devils Lake-based 835th Engineer Utilities Detachment and 225 Air Defense Artillery Soldiers from the Grand Forks-based 1st Battalion, 188th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, are training for possible mobilizations in support of U.S. Central Command and of the National Capital Region’s air space protection, respectively.

Some 988 North Dakota Soldiers and Airmen have served on COVID-19 response duty, with about 240 assigned today.

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