Louisiana Guard ‘Protects What Matters’ in challenging year

  • Published
  • By Louisiana National Guard Public Affairs Office

PINEVILLE, La. – The Louisiana National Guard confronted a demanding 2021 with multiple challenges and missions at home and abroad.

Soldiers and Airmen deployed overseas and to other states during the year, responded to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and other emergencies, and participated in several significant events.

In January, Gov. John Bel Edwards directed the LANG to send 174 service members to augment the District of Columbia National Guard to ensure a safe presidential inauguration. The LANG troops joined National Guard men and women from other states and territories who conducted security, communication and logistical missions in support of federal and D.C. authorities.

“They are proven, prepared, and proud to do their part to ensure a peaceful and safe inauguration of our 46th commander in chief,” said Army Gen. Dan Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau.

More than 2,400 Guardsmen from multiple brigades, including the 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 225th Engineer Brigade and 139th Regional Support Group, and the Louisiana Air National Guard deployed to the Middle East and the Southwest Border in the past year.

All Guard units play a vital role after disaster strikes, but even with the reduced force, the LANG was still prepared to protect what matters. During the year, Guardsmen supported operations including logistical support, water distribution, road clearance, debris removal, generator support, construction, commodity distribution, search and rescue, engineering, and aerial reconnaissance.

The Louisiana National Guard activated more than 1,200 Guardsmen during a February storm. They delivered more than 2.1 million gallons of water and 43,356 meals, cleared 223 miles of road, and provided 14 generators for infrastructure support.

In May, as flooding began in the southwest area of the state, 393 Guardsmen were activated to support a variety of missions, including search and rescue, engineering, and aerial reconnaissance. They also rescued 25 people and two pets and installed 3,350 feet of Tiger Dam to mitigate flooding.

Hurricane Ida called for a massive emergency response. More than 3,000 Guardsmen from Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas assisted the Louisiana Guard. Additionally, nearly 500 active-duty service members helped.

The LANG rescued 397 people and 65 pets. Guard members delivered more than 6.7 million meals, 7.9 million liters of water, 1.3 million bags of ice and 310,245 tarps. And a LANG floating bridge assisted in the crossing of 30,710 vehicles. LANG engineers also cleared 2,946 miles of road in 20 parishes. 

More than 800 Louisiana Guardsmen continue to support COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites across the state. The LANG has vaccinated 192,596 and tested 498,122 people throughout the state, packaged 41,685,551 pounds of food and delivered 99,530 vaccine vials.

Guardsmen still support 21 medical test sites, 31 vaccine sites and six food banks throughout Louisiana.

“The LANG is integral to our partnership in making this successful,” said Dr. John Vanchiere, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at LSU Health-Shreveport and the director of the Community Outreach for Testing and Vaccination Program.

LANG also remained committed to responding to cyberattacks throughout the state in 2021. In partnership with the Office of Technology Services and the Louisiana State Police, LANG responded to 12 cyber threats that affected 69 state, parish and local agencies.

Despite the deployments and emergency response operations, the LANG sustained readiness and promoted esprit de corps throughout the organization. Highlights included the Best Warrior Competition, the 25th anniversary of the State Partnership Program with Belize, the 10th anniversary of the SPP with Haiti, the Child and Youth Program’s military kid’s camp, annual disaster response training and the annual Christmas Tree Drop with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge in New Orleans East. 

At the end of the year, the LANG held two groundbreaking ceremonies at Camp Beauregard in Pineville: one for a readiness center that will house two units and another for a multimillion-dollar military housing project. At Jackson Barracks in New Orleans, a memorial greenspace ceremony was held to honor the Native Americans, Soldiers, civilians and enslaved people who lived, served and died there.

“I am proud of the great work the men and women of the Louisiana National Guard have done this year,” said Maj. Gen. Keith Waddell, adjutant general of the LANG. “From administering COVID vaccines to responding to Hurricane Ida and mobilizing in defense of our nation, our service members truly amaze me, and I am appreciative of their service.”