56th Brigade - 28th Infantry Division (Mechanized)
Stryker Brigade Combat Teams (SBCTs) are built on the Strike Force concept, which focuses on the the ability to deploy, almost immediately, a lethal modular force, tailored to operational requirements, anywhere in the world within 96 hours after liftoff, a division on the ground in 120 hours, and five divisions within 30 days. The 56th SBCT performed an activation ceremony on 24 October 2004 at Indiantown Gap, Annville, PA. As of June 2006, the 56th Brigade was completing its conversion to a Stryker Brigade Combat Team as it welcomed the arrival of its first Stryker vehicles.
The 56th SBCT is a major subordinate command of the 28th Infantry Division (M). The brigade's subordinate units exist throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the State of West Virginia. The 3,000 citizen-soldiers assigned to the brigade carry on the tradition of their "Minuteman" forefathers by responding to any local, state, or federal crisis on a moment's notice.
With its headquarters in Philadelphia, the 56th SBCT boasts being home to some of the oldest units in the Armed Forces. Units of the 111th Infantry trace their lineage back to 1747, when Benjamin Franklin first established his famed "Associators" in Philadelphia. The battalions, as well as the brigade, carry battle streamers from nearly every conflict throughout American history.
The 56th SBCT training program stresses tactical proficiency and enhanced leadership skills, with emphasis on the "mission essential task list" (METL). Exceptional performance and high readiness standards are the hallmarks of the 56th Brigade.
The 56th SBCT has dual federal and state missions. The federal mission is to deploy on short notice as part of the 28th Infantry Division and destroy, capture, or repel enemy forces using maneuver and shock effect. The 56th SBCT can also conduct various Operations Other Than War, independently or as part of a joint or multinational headquarters in peacetime and conflict environments.
The state mission of the brigade is to serve the Governor and the citizens of the Commonwealth as needed in times of natural disaster or civil unrest. Recent examples include flood emergencies declared by the Governors of Pennsylvania and West Virginia. In the Blizzard of 1996 in Philadelphia, the 56th SBCT won credit in saving over 70 lives by providing emergency medical transportation during the duration of the Governor's proclamation.
In December 2000, the United States Army proposed a multi-year program to take the country's defense forces into the 21st century. The following year, the 56th Brigade, Pennsylvania Army National Guard was selected as the only reserve component Stryker Brigade out of seven in the entire United States Army.
On September 1st, 2005 the entire Brigade Combat Team was mobilized to deploy to Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina, the sixth strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean, slammed into the Gulf Coast. The 56th SBCT was stationed in and around New Orleans to support the relief effort for the next five weeks. This included a subsequent deployment to the areas damaged by Hurricane Rita, which made land fall near the Louisiana-Texas border while the Stryker Brigade was in New Orleans.
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