Michigan Army National Guard
The Michigan National Guard's federal military mission is to assist the federal government in defending the sovereign interests of the United States when they are threatened or violated. The Michigan National Guard's state mission is to protect the lives and property of Michigan citizens during times of natural disaster and to preserve the peace, order, and public safety at the direction of the Governor. The Michigan Army National Guard maintains 60 armories, and is present in 54 communities.
The history of the Michigan National Guard is one of long and honorable service that predates the state itself. As one of Michigan's first settlements, Detroit is looked upon as the birthplace of the early Michigan Militia. The first indication of an effort to organize a militia is the reference in the Cadillac Papers of a proposal made by Sr. de LaMothe. His proposal, dated November 13, 1708, called for forming four companies of "savages" to act as a militia for the colony. People opposed this idea because they were afraid that if the "savages" became educated in the ways of warfare, they would become formidable. The first evidence of an organized, formal militia is the mention of the participation of the First Regiment of Wayne County in a parade in Detroit on May 11, 1803. However, neither the occasion for the parade nor the strength of the regiment was recorded.
Between duty on the Mexican Border and service in World War 1, the Michigan National Guard was expanded by the War Department. The Michigan Guard merged with members of the Wisconsin Guard to form the 32nd Infantry Division on July 18, 1917, with Michigan furnishing 8,000 troops of all arms. The 32nd was to write many glorious pages in American history in both world wars and become known world-wide as one of American's toughest fighting units.
In 1997, the first NATO Partnership for Peace Cooperative Banners exercise was held at Camp Evjemoen, Norway, although the Michigan Guard did not participate. During that time, members of the Michigan Guard participated in Baltic Challenge, a similar exercise conducted in the Baltic countries of Latvia (1996), Estonia (1997) and Lithuania (1998). In 1999, Michigan hosted the training at Camp Grayling (Partner Challenge).
During FY99, various units of the Michigan Army National Guard deployed overseas and outside state boundaries. Meanwhile, remaining units worked and trained at Camp Grayling, Fort Custer and within their respective communities. In April, soldiers from the 745th EOD deployed to Panama to clear US military ranges. In June and July, members of the 177th Military Police Brigade deployed to Panama to provide law enforcement support as the US prepared to hand over control of the Panama Canal.
The MIARNG also hosted the first multi-national state partnership exercise, Partner Challenge '99, at Camp Grayling. One infantry platoon each from Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia trained side-by-side with their partner states Michigan, Pennsylvania and Maryland, respectively.
Between July and August, members of the 107th and 507th Engineer Battalions deployed to Latvia to repair an orphanage. Maintenance companies of the 63rd Troop Command provided maintenance support for 7th Army's track and wheeled vehicles in Germany, the 25th Infantry Brigade at Fort Polk, LA, and at the Corpus Christi Army Aviation Depot. The 126th Press Camp Headquarters also deployed to Germany to produce print and broadcast products for 7th Army's training command.
In 2000, the Baltic countries and Michigan were invited to participate in Cooperative Banners. Of the 4,500 Cooperative Banners participants, 132 were from 1st Battalion, 125th Infantry, Michigan Army National Guard. The 125th was the only U.S. Army or Army Guard unit to participate.
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