For North Dakota National Guard, 15 out-of-state deployments since 2014
Data released by the National Guard after a request from the Grand Forks Herald show more than 1,150 National Guard members were sent to locations across the country and the world since 2014.
GRAND FORKS — The North Dakota National Guard has been deployed out of state at least 15 times since 2014, including seven times since 2020, a rate higher than in-state activations the past three years.
Data released by the National Guard after a request from the Grand Forks Herald show more than 1,150 National Guard members have been sent to locations across the country and the world for a variety of objectives since 2014.
At present, 155 personnel from the Fargo-based 191st Military Police Academy are serving in the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) as part of Operation Spartan Shield, which Army Central describes as a “military posture in Southwest Asia sufficient to strengthen our defense relationships.” The deployment — which started in September — is expected to last a year.
Also in September, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum deployed an undisclosed number of troops from the First Battalion, 112th Aviation Regiment to the southern U.S. border. A year earlier, Burgum deployed 120 troops from the Bismarck-based 957th Engineer Company to the border.
North Dakota is among two dozen states that have sent a combined 2,500 National Guard troops to the border, according to reporting from the nonprofit news agency The Center Square.
“Gov. Burgum is deeply grateful for their service and for the critical role that the North Dakota National Guard continues to play in securing our nation’s borders,” Mike Nowatzki, communications director for the governor’s office, said in an email to the Grand Forks Herald.
While the North Dakota National Guard has been deployed out of state seven times since 2020, it has been deployed six times in the state during the same timeframe.
At 1 a.m. on May 1, 2022, a train derailed near Burlington west of Minot. Several of the train cars carrying paper and food products caught fire, and by the afternoon, a Guard helicopter was dropping water on the blaze.
Just two days later, the Guard was dispatched to the Bourbanis Dam in Pembina County to drop sandbags in an effort to stop erosion at the dam. A separate activation on May 6 included the placement of a five-ton water pump to relieve pressure on the structure.
All three domestic activations in the state occurred within the span of a few days.
The National Guard has always been used in response to natural disasters, fires and other in-state incidents. In 2020, the Guard was activated for 736 days for the COVID-19 response. And in 2021, the Guard was activated in response to two wildfires.
In the past three years, out-of-state deployments have sent the Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border twice, the U.S. Capitol region three times and overseas twice on two U.S. Central Command missions.
North Dakota National Guard Public Affairs officer Bill Prokopyk said he couldn’t comment on overall strategy on Guard deployments, but he said the way the Guard has historically been deployed changed drastically after the Sept. 11 attacks. Prokopyk pointed to a year-long activation starting in June 2021 when 225 troops assisted in protecting the airspace in the Washington, D.C., area.
“Those are duties we never had before 9-11,” he said. “Before that, the Guard was truly a reserve (force) and not that many of them mobilized for federal missions. The tragic attacks on our nation of Sept. 11, 2001, caused the National Guard to transform into an active reserve and become an indispensable component in the defense of our nation.”
Of the 15 out-of-state deployments since 2014, six were Central Command activations, four were to the U.S. Capitol region and three were to the U.S.-Mexico border. About five troops were deployed to the Horn of Africa in 2018 and 2019 to operate a Huron C-12 Fixed Wing aircraft. Another five troops were activated around the same time for a domestic cyber mission.
“The National Guard motto is ‘Always ready, always there,” Prokopyk said. “We have to be ready for anything. For years when we talked about preparing for a pandemic, we thought, ‘Yeah, like that is ever going to happen.’ So, you never know.”
The North Dakota National Guard has been activated at least 15 times since 2014. Following is a list of those deployments, including dates, the number of personnel and location:
- September 2022-present: 155, CENTCOM
- September 2022-present: Unknown, U.S. Mexico border
- October 2021-October 2022: 125, U.S.-Mexico border
- June 2021-July 2022: 225, U.S. Capitol region
- August 2021-June 2022: 52, CENTCOM
- November 2020-June 2022: 78, U.S. Capitol region
- January 2021: 130, U.S. Capitol region (inauguration)
- December 2018-summer 2019: 5, domestic cyber mission.
- August 2018-June 2019: 5, Horn of Africa.
- Various days 2019: 14, U.S.-Mexico border
- July 2019-May 2020: 6, CENTCOM
- Jan. 2018-Dec. 2018: 30, CENTCOM
- March 2017-March 2018: 225, U.S. Capitol region
- January 2017-November 2017: 60, CENTCOM
- November 2014-July 2015: 15, CENTCOM
Source: North Dakota National GuardNote: CENTCOM stands for U.S. Central Command and are all overseas deployments.