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Georgia Department of Defense celebrates National Guard's 384th birthday with awards

By Spc. Isaiah Matthews | Dec. 10, 2020

MARIETTA, Ga. — The Georgia Department of Defense observed the National Guard's 384th birthday during a ceremony on Dec. 10, 2020, at Clay National Guard Center, Marietta, Georgia.

At the same event, the Ga. DoD recognized several organizations and individuals for their service during 2020, notably the Georgia Army National Guard for receiving the Director's Award in Excellence for Integrated Management Systems (IMS) Operations.

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Thomas Carden, The Adjutant General of Georgia, presided over the ceremony conducted virtually through Facebook Live to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

"2020 taught us a lesson about our capability, and about not wrapping yourselves with what you have but to build what the crisis demands,” said Carden. “This organization built what the crisis demanded and we deployed what the crisis demanded. We've lost a lot during this pandemic, but today is evidence that we refuse to sacrifice our culture."

The National Guard is the oldest branch of the United States military. The National Guard formed on Dec. 13, 1636, in Massachusetts from militia consisting of local farmers and townsmen. Today, the National Guard consists of over 450,000 Soldiers and Airmen located in 50 states, 3 territories and the District of Columbia. They have the capability and capacity and to respond wherever or whenever they’re needed by their governors and even the federal government.

The Ga. DoD held an organizational awards ceremony at the same birthday celebration in recognition for performance throughout 2020.

"We want to put on display what our Soldiers, Airmen, and civilian employees do every day to bend the odds of fighting and winning its wars and fighting to alleviate suffering on the home front," Carden said.

On Oct. 30, 2020, Lt. Gen. Jon Jensen, director of the Army National Guard, selected the Georgia Army National Guard as the recipient of the Director’s Award in Excellence for IMS Operations for fiscal year 2020. IMS supports the military service in their efforts to implement industry standards and modern business management practices. The award recognizes the Georgia Army National Guard for their senior leaders’ commitments to lead efforts in improving the organization, for sustainability, innovation and business practices improvements, and for having extremely positive, recognizable reputation as an organization that can influence the environment at hand and produce results.

The Georgia Air National Guard’s 116th Air Control Wing and 165th Airlift Wing both received the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award. The 165th Airlift Wing also received the Curtis N. “Rusty” Metcalf Trophy, an award presented to airlift and refueling units who demonstrate the highest standards of mission accomplishment. In addition, the Georgia Air Dominance Center received the Air Force Organizational Excellence Award. This award recognizes the achievements and accomplishments of various Air Force activities and organizations that perform functions normally conducted by numbered Air Force wings, groups and squadrons.

The Ga. DoD also presented the Georgia Distinguished Unit Ribbon to the Georgia State Defense Force. The Georgia State Defense Force is an all-volunteer force that provided the state of Georgia with humanitarian services support for the COVID-19 defense support to civil authorities missions from March 16th through July 17th, 2020. This was the longest continuous call-up in the history of the Georgia State Defense Force.

During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, National Guard service members distributed 890 Million masks, gloves, gowns and other personal protective equipment. They packaged, served and delivered 367 million meals. Guard members also tested or screened 10.5 million citizens for COVID-19.

The operational National Guard is an integral part of the joint force and plays a vital role in every aspect of U.S. national security and defense. National Guard service members have supported more than 1.1 million overseas deployments since Sept. 11, 2020, and over 120,000 National Guard Soldiers and Airmen were engaged worldwide in 2020.

"Your National Guard has forces physically deployed in six out of six geographic combatant commands around the world," said Carden. "Your National guard is more globally engaged today than at any point in the history of the National Guard."
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