By Spc. Joshua Syberg
| Indiana National Guard | June 16, 2020
Indiana National Guard soldiers assigned to Task Force Indiana assist local law enforcement officials near the White House in Washington D.C. on June 4, 2020. The Soldiers assigned to TF Indiana were deployed to the National Capitol Region to support civil authorities in protecting life and property while balancing the right to peacefully protest. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Runser)
Last week, the Indiana National Guard deployed approximately 400 soldiers to Washington in support of local law enforcement and crisis management efforts.
Communities around the country took to the streets in an explosion of frustration regarding racial divisions that still plague America. Citizens of all ethnic backgrounds expressed their constitutional rights of freedom of speech and the right to peaceful assembly.
However, due to the current national climate and civil disturbances, the Guard deployed to protect communities and critical infrastructure in the nation’s capital. Hoosier Guardsmen executed this in a non-lethal supportive role with local law enforcement agencies taking the lead.
“The criticality of this mission is such that the chain of command has reached down to the 38th Infantry Division and the 76th Infantry Brigade because of the quality of training, leadership and their unique ability to respond to these types of environments,” said Maj. Gen. Gordon L. Ellis, 38th Infantry Division commanding general. “I think at this point in time in our history we need forces of stability and the National Guard is a unique combination of trained soldier and citizen. They bring that unique prospective into the very volatile operational environments that we are responding to now.”
Citizen-soldiers of the 76th Infantry Brigade completed an unprecedented task.
Lt. Col. Lisa Kopczynski, Indiana National Guard director of mission support, said that less than 24 hours passed from the time soldiers were notified of their mission to the time the C-130 carrying them, landed in Washington. This could not be accomplished without the joint efforts of the Illinois and Indiana Air National Guard working alongside Indiana Army Guardsmen to meet this expedited timeline.
“We are making history as an organization,” Kopczynski said. “I am a 32-year veteran of the Indiana National Guard, and I have never in my career seen anything to this level. We have a very diverse organization of all race, religion and gender that wear the uniform. Citizens have every right to protest and feel the emotions we’re all feeling. You cannot be in an environment like this and not have the physical emotions and the sheer heartbreak that comes with all of this. Soldiers and airmen stand ready to provide that constitutional support as Hoosiers and Guardsmen.”
Over the weekend, approximately 400 Indiana National Guard soldiers returned home after serving in Washington where they supported D.C. Metropolitan Police officers and Drug Enforcement Administration officers with crisis management efforts. Soldiers manned traffic control points, provided security and escorted emergency personnel.
"We are excited to welcome our soldiers back to Indiana. I am proud of the professionalism displayed in helping to protect life, preserve critical infrastructure and ensure people's constitutional rights," said Brig. Gen. Dale Lyles, Indiana National Guard adjutant general.
The Indiana National Guard is a melting pot of students, farmers, construction, factory, retail workers and more. They are plain-clothed citizens living in neighborhoods around Indiana.
Currently, the Indiana Army and Air National Guard forces have personnel stationed across Indiana supporting food banks, community kitchens and COVID-19 testing sites while simultaneously protecting businesses, monuments and government buildings from rioters souring otherwise peaceful protests.