ORLANDO, Florida –It was an unprecedented year for the 164th Air Defense Artillery (ADA) Brigade as Soldiers were called to support civilian authorities across the state to help keep Floridians safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, while simultaneously training and mobilizing Soldiers to conduct their Air Defense mission.In March, 3rd Battalion, 265th Air Defense Artillery launched into 2020 as first in response to the COVID-19 pandemic setting up the first Community Based Test Site (CBTS) at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. Task Force Lightning was comprised of 172 Lightning Battalion Soldiers, 30 2-124th Infantry Battalion medics, 78 Department of Health (DOH) nurses and 23 Orange County Law Enforcement Officers. Mobilized from March 14th to April 9, 2020, they tested almost 3,000 Florida citizens, screened over 2,200 vehicles and tested over 750 First Responders along with 850 Heath Care Workers.The 3rd Battalion, 116th Field Artillery quickly shifted focus from Western Strike 20 (WS20) to COVID-19 response efforts. They assumed operation for the CBTS at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., airport screening at Orlando International Airport and mobile testing teams at elder care facilities.In April, the 715th Military Police (MP) Company was given short notice of selection to deploy in support of the Southwest Border (SWB) Mission. They mobilized in October to Fort Bliss, Texas with over 100 Soldiers.Meanwhile, 1st Battalion, 265th Air Defense Artillery staged Avenger Fire Units at a training site in preparation for a Falcon Virgo Exercise, the final certification gate before the battle handoff between 1-265th ADA (FLARNG) and 1-204th ADA (MSARNG). This ensured a seamless transition between National Guard Air Defense Artillery states on the National Capital Region-Integrated Air Defense System (NCR-IADS) mission.In July, the brigade headquarters Mission Command Element (MCE) returned from a year-long deployment to Germany in support of the European Deterrence Initiative (EDI). While deployed, they provided mission command of U.S. Air and Missile Defense forces spread out over four countries and two continents, trained and participated in several multi-national joint exercises, responded to real-world contingency crisis planning and enhanced the alliance with our European allies in order to deter aggression.In August, the brigade headquarters mobilized Task Force Anaconda, the brigade’s 8th task force rotation to provide mission command of the ground-based air defense systems in the National Capital Region (NCR) since the 9/11 attacksIn September, 3-265th ADA BN shifted focus from COVID-19 response efforts to preparing for their federal mobilizations to both the NCR in support of NCR-IADS and Europe in support of the European Deterrence Initiative (EDI). During their 36-day Massive Training Event (MTE) they conducted weapons qualification, army warrior tasks (AWTs), battle drills, combat lifesaver (CLS) training and 14 Series table qualification. The MTE culminated by a Field Training Exercise (FTX) for EDI where they spent four days practicing and refining their fieldcraft and with Exercise America’s Shield (EAS) for NCR where they conducted 24-hour operations prosecuting Targets of Interest (TOIs) over four days.In October, 1-265th ADA occupied the new state of the art Flagler Palm Coast Readiness Center located in Palm Coast, Fla. This facility was years in the making and promises to provide the 1-265th ADA a modern facility to tackle all future endeavors on the horizon for decades to come.In December, the 164th ADA BDE assumed mission command responsibilities from the 50th Regional Support Group (RSG) of Florida’s COVID-19 response mission in order to continue supporting the Department of Health and our civilian partners in helping Floridians.Although faced with challenges and a high OPTEMPO year, the 164th ADA Brigade’s experience and preparation led to successful mobilizations, post mobilizations, certifications and remain steadfast for continuing future state and federal missions.For more National Guard newsNational Guard FacebookNational Guard TwitterHow the National Guard is helpingPhotos of the National Guard responseLatest from the CDC