FORT MEADE, Md. – Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers from Detachment 1, 176th Cyber Protection Team completed their mobilization to Fort Meade in recent weeks and began returning to Wisconsin.
This mobilization was the first for the unit since its creation in 2017, and it lasted just over a year, after mobilizing in late October of 2020 and returning over the course of last week.
While there, the 176th worked under Task Force Echo and conducted cyberspace operations in support of U.S. Cyber Command and Cyber National Mission Force requirements.
“Our mobilization has significantly increased the ability of Wisconsin cyber defenders to quickly identify, respond and restore critical infrastructure and key resources in the event of a cyber attack,” Maj. Jamison Clark, commander of the detachment, said.
When reflecting on the after-hours aspects of their mobilization, the Soldiers had many different activities and hobbies that helped pass the time. Some took up CrossFit, some ran multiple marathons, a couple brought their motorcycles and went for rides up and down the coast, and others went sight-seeing.
“It’s been interesting to learn different things and also to be able to visit D.C. and see everything that’s there,” one Soldier said. “It was never on my bucket list before but seeing it now, I’m happy I went. I walked 16 miles over there in one day.”
Although the 20-person team didn’t receive the typical Wisconsin welcome home from senior leadership at the airport due to alternate travel arrangements, senior Wisconsin National Guard leaders traveled to Maryland instead to congratulate them personally an informal gathering that marked the end of their mobilization.
On Nov. 23, Brig. Gen. Joane Mathews, Wisconsin’s deputy adjutant general for Army, Brig. Gen. Tim Covington, Wisconsin’s deputy adjutant general for civil support, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Troy Bittner, the state command chief warrant officer, Command Sgt. Maj. Curtis Patrouille, the state command sergeant major, Lt. Col. Jon Wymer, the state chaplain, and Col. John Morgen, commander of 64th Troop Command visited the troops and talked through how the deployment went and their plans upon returning home. From there, the Soldiers drove their personal vehicles to demobilization stations and then finally back to their homes and families.
These Soldiers will now bring their experience from Task Force Echo back to the Wisconsin National Guard, their civilian jobs, and their communities.
Hundreds of other Wisconsin National Guard troops remain mobilized overseas and here in Wisconsin this holiday season.
Hundreds of Airmen from the Wisconsin Air National Guard’s 115th Fighter Wing in Madison, Wisconsin deployed to the Middle East this fall, and approximately 65 Soldiers from the Waukesha, Wisconsin-based 135th Medical Company remain deployed to Kuwait and Iraq. Another 150 Soldiers serving with the Sparta and Viroqua, Wisconsin-based 107th Maintenance Company are also deployed to Eastern Europe.
Meanwhile in Wisconsin, more than 500 troops continue serving in the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic helping communities conduct COVID testing, administering COVID vaccines, managing vaccine stockpiles, and serving as temporary nursing assistants at several mental health facilities.