LOS ANGELES, Calif.— The warning order (WARNO) went out May 30 on a Saturday evening to all 17,000 citizen-Soldiers and Airmen of the California National Guard.California National Guard members were directed to stand by and be ready to be mobilized to assist state and local authorities who were responding to largescale protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.Within minutes of the WARNO, Soldiers of the California Army National Guard’s 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) were ordered to report to their armories for deployment onto the streets of Los Angeles.On the civilian side, these citizen-Soldiers were business owners, IT technicians, mechanics, hotel managers, police officers, firefighters, teachers and nearly every other profession, including college students. Many were not working or attending school in person due to the COVID-19 shutdown.For many of them, Los Angeles is home.Spc. Eliel Teixeira is an infantryman with 1st Battalion, 160th Infantry Regiment, which is headquartered in Inglewood. The battalion has company armories throughout the Los Angeles Basin. On the civilian side, Teixeira is a sheriff’s deputy for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. When he got the call to report to his armory, he was on a law enforcement scrimmage line holding a shield and baton at Sunset Boulevard and La Brea Avenue in downtown Los Angeles where a large protest was underway.“I was holding the line when I got the call that we were being mobilized,” Teixeira said.He reported to his armory and was soon enroute to the Los Angeles Convention Center in downtown Los Angeles. Soldiers from the 1-160th were the first to roll in, arriving at the convention center at 10:30 p.m. with an advance party of Soldiers to set up the arrival of the battalion. Through the early morning hours of May 31, convoys of Light Military Tactical Vehicles and Humvees were filling the convention center parking areas as more units arrived. Inside the center’s cavernous halls, Soldiers and Airmen set up their operations centers and laid out their cots and gear in row upon row across the sprawling cement floor.More than 2,500 Cal Guardsmen were soon in Los Angeles, assigned to Joint Task Force-79 (JTF-79), comprised of a mix of California Army and Air National Guard units.The main body of JTF-79 was made up of units from the 79th IBCT, with additional units attached from the 100th Troop Command, and four security force squadrons from the California Air National Guard.Col. Richard Mifsud, Commander of the 79th IBCT, was now in command of the newly formed task force. At around 5 a.m. on May 31, he assembled his battalion commanders and staff and met with officers from the Los Angeles Police Department. LAPD Commander Phil Fontanetta briefed Mifsud on the situation, pointing to maps on the convention center wall that displayed sectors of the city where the police needed immediate support.“Infiltrators were disrupting and hijacking protests by those wishing to express their First Amendment rights,” Fontanetta said. “Violence was occurring. As companies arrived, they received the in-brief and were deployed to key critical infrastructure. This alleviated the LAPD patrol forces, allowing us to address violent behavior.”For members of the 1-160 Infantry Battalion, who fall under the 79th IBCT, this mobilization had particular significance. “Our unit is known as ‘Los Angeles’ Own,’” said 1-160th Infantry Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Anthony Bangloy. “We’re from L.A. That’s why were able to respond so fast. We had units moving within four hours of notification.”The task force fanned out across Los Angeles County to such iconic locales as Sunset and Hollywood boulevards, the Hollywood Bowl, Rodeo Drive, Dodger Stadium and the Santa Monica Pier.Sgt. Brendan Konrath, from Newbury Park, is a physical therapy student at Moorpark Community College. On the Guard side, he’s a squad leader for Bravo Company, 1-160th. Within a few hours of the notification, he was patrolling the streets of L.A. alongside his battle buddies.“This is home,” Konrath said. “This is our backyard.”On the afternoon of May 31, Konrath and his company staged at Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles. The battalion traces its lineage to the 7th Infantry Regiment that mustered in this same square in 1898 for the Spanish American War. The 1-160th holds its annual military ball at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel which overlooks the square.Some of the Soldiers in Bravo Company described the scene as surreal. They and most civilians on the streets were wearing masks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Storefronts were boarded up or covered by metal grates. Some of the establishments downtown had been burned out, looted or otherwise marred by vandalism and anti-law enforcement graffiti. Everyone on the streets was filming the Guardsmen with phones or cameras. Most thanked them for their service and presence. Some seemed nervous or wary. Others were angry, cursing them and giving them the middle finger. Large, raucous groups of protestors moved from block to block hour after hour while roving bands of looters targeted areas where law enforcement were not present. LAPD helicopters flew low over the tops of buildings scanning the streets with searchlights. Media helicopters hovered overhead. The wail of police sirens could be heard across the city.The Guardsmen were tasked to protect and defend the lives of California residents, as well as protect the rights to free speech and assembly. Police remained responsible for public safety and making arrests. The presence of the Guardsmen helped deter violence and looting and allowed the police to concentrate on public safety.LAPD Lt. John Russo said the interoperability of the Guard and law enforcement was phenomenal and had an immediate effect.“The National Guard is a force multiplier for law enforcement in our efforts to protect lives and property,” Russo said.The Guardsmen worked long shifts from Sunday to Saturday standing watch on the streets for 12+ hours at a time carrying on average 75 pounds of gear.By Friday, protests were still ongoing but the lawbreaking had lessened.Mifsud said his troops were tired from the long shifts but morale remained high through the operation. “I think we showed the community—the people of Los Angeles—that we’re here for them, we’re here to protect them,” he said. “I think it was good for the community to see that we can respond quickly. In this case it was some agitators and looters who were causing problems for people that were trying to peacefully protest and express their opinions. But if it had been an earthquake or some catastrophic fire that was burning through the streets of Los Angeles, we demonstrated that we can be there to help the citizens—that we will show up and that you can count on us to be there.”Previously, the largest mobilization of the California National Guard was during the 1992 Los Angeles riots. This mobilization was even bigger, and it was statewide.On June 5, Maj. Gen. Laura Yeager, Commander of the California Army National Guard and the 40th Infantry Division, paid an office call to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti at City Hall to discuss Cal Guard operations as the Guardsmen were beginning to reduce their footprint in the city.Sixty-three people were killed in the 1992 Los Angeles riots, but not a single person died in the city due to the current civil unrest. Garcetti said the California National Guard was a large part of the reason this was the case. He expressed to Yeager the gratefulness of the city for the California National Guard’s assistance over the preceding week.“This is a painful moment for the country,” Garcetti said. “There is so much more work to do.”On June 7 and 8, JTF-79 departed the Los Angeles Convention Center. The units of JTF-79 returned to their respective armories and started the process of turning in equipment in preparation for if and when they would be needed again.