The COVID-19 pandemic’s unique complexity has called for unprecedented measures to support the American people. Among the states, the impact on Louisiana has been particularly grave.“Unlike a hurricane or a flood, which is generally a localized event, this threat affects everyone,” said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Lee W. Hopkins, director of the joint staff for the Louisiana National Guard.One Louisiana parish, St. John the Baptist, held the highest death rate per capita from COVID-19 in the Nation. The death rate in nearby New Orleans has reached 37.93 per 100,000 people, inspiring comparisons to other modern disasters, most notably Hurricane Katrina.In a ceremony usually reserved for units exchanging posts during wartime, Maj. Gen. Michael Stone, commanding general of Task Force Center, conducted a relief-in-place and transfer of authority (RIP/TOA) for all DoD efforts in Louisiana to Hopkins on April 7, 2020 in New Orleans. The event was organized and executed by Task Force 51 and their commander, Major General John King.In addition to his traditional Louisiana National Guard role, Hopkins also serves as the state’s Dual Status Commander (DSC), a unique position that allows him to command both federally-controlled units and state-controlled units.RIP/TOA dates back to the Roman legions: In full view of his troops, an outgoing commander would pass his baton to the new commander, so the unit was never left without a leader as they proceeded into battle. However, as the war against COVID-19 demands, this particular transfer was done telephonically with the general officers 6-feet apart in order to abide by CDC guidelines for social distancing.This exchange continues the effort to fight COVID-19 sustainably and provide for direct command and control of forces in Louisiana.“Appropriate precautions were taken, but I’m proud to place Louisiana in the hands of Brig. Gen. Hopkins,” Stone said. “This RIP/TOA emphasized our unprecedented fight against COVID-19. As a force, we strive, as always, to meet the needs of the nation when called upon, and having him as a dual-status commander will help us meet that end.”On March 23, 2020, United States Army North stood-up Task Force Center (TF Center), a headquarters for the command and control of units supporting the Department of Defense response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is being led by U.S. Northern Command. The units were deployed in three Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) regions, which encompass 15 states in the central United States. TF Center would do the work of getting active duty Army and Navy medical units to some of the hardest-hit areas at the request of FEMA and the local governments and starting those units on their missions. The implementation of dual-status commanders has played a large role in how Task Forces have organized their battle strategies.A dual-status commander is a position made to effectively respond to disasters by using both active duty, or Title 10, and reserve, or Title 32, assets in concert with each other. Title 10 and Title 32 refer to specific sections of the United States Code that define those forces’ authorities.“A dual-status commander is both a member of the state chain of command, taking orders from the governor and adjutant general, and the federal chain of command, taking orders from the president and secretary of defense,” Stone said.The need for such a position was realized in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when response efforts by the two groups of Soldiers weren’t coordinated as well as they could have to respond to a multi-state disaster.“For natural disasters, the National Guard is really Department of Defense's first responders; we are located in communities across the state and have enduring relationships with state agencies and local officials,” Hopkins said. He added that adding the DSC and incorporating Title 10 forces into the response gives the National Guard the ability to achieve unity of effort.“We are definitely stronger together than the sum of our parts.”