FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. – Despite numerous adjustments to pre-deployment training due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 28th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade is ready for its upcoming deployment to the Middle East.“The agreement going forward is that we have to have at least 90% of the pre-mobilization training complete. We actually completed it and we’re sitting at 96%,” said Col. Howard Lloyd, commander of the 28th ECAB, during a question-and-answer session for the brigade’s family readiness group May 14. “So everybody did a great job and that’s due to the Soldiers out there, too. They were given a task; we put a lot of challenges on them.”For two weeks, starting late-April, 28th ECAB Soldiers with the Pennsylvania National Guard received refreshers in basic Soldier skills. Soldiers completed Humvee rollover training, rifle marksmanship with the M4 carbine, medical training, land navigation training, grenade training, convoy operations and improvised explosive device avoidance and detection training.All are essential skills members of the 28th ECAB had to fine-tune to ensure they can safely complete their missions and survive in critical situations.Behind the scenes, the brigade staff was thrown a curveball when the COVID-19 pandemic began. They were forced to adjust many events, including rescheduling the pre-deployment training altogether.“Our staff did a great job. We’re very fortunate. They hit the tabletop, started talking. We had to cancel certain things because everything was shut down, and then they came up with a plan to bring everybody in over the last two weeks,” said Lloyd. “We knocked it out. It was very successful.”Soldiers were required to complete the training while adhering to COVID-19 mitigation directives. Those directives included completing a health screening daily, wearing face coverings and maintaining social distancing.Lloyd was not surprised that his Soldiers were able to work through the challenges so successfully. Soldiers with the 28th ECAB regularly complete domestic operations on little notice, answering the call from the governor and adjutant general of Pennsylvania, so they are already well-trained.“We’re very fortunate with the 28th ECAB and all the other units that are being augmented to us throughout the nation,” said Lloyd. “We are very well-trained right now, and I do not see any impacts at all and any issues with us being able to do our mission downrange.”For more National Guard newsNational Guard FacebookNational Guard TwitterHow the National Guard is helpingPhotos of the National Guard responseLatest from the CDCU.S. responseWhite House-CDC response