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Col. Jerry Glass - Commander, 53rd IBCT
Command Sgt. Maj. Jasen Pask - CSM, 53rd IBCT

Year in Review - 2021

This past year the 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT), Florida’s “Gator Brigade” provided ready military units in support of national security objectives and protected Florida’s citizens while contributing to an array of value-rich programs and initiatives. Throughout these actions, the 53rd IBCT demonstrated its adaptability and readiness by being available to the state and nation for any circumstance. The 53rd IBCT remains committed and always ready to serve with excellence.

Throughout the year, the 53rd IBCT remained trained and on call to execute its missions of Defense Support of Civil Authorities for hurricane response while simultaneously executing operations in support of COVID-19, the 59th Presidential Inauguration, and assistance to civil authorities for civil disturbance and relief missions during the hurricane season. In addition to readiness training to fulfill these missions, the brigade closed out Hurricane Sally support after it made landfall in Alabama and rallied to respond as Hurricane Ida made its way to the southeastern coastline.

In May and June, the 53rd IBCT participated in U.S. Army Europe’s (USAREUR) Exercise DEFENDEREurope 21. This large-scale operation exercised USAREUR’s ability to integrate U.S. allies and 27 partner-nation forces in the conduct of simultaneous operations across more than a dozen nations. This capstone event built joint and combined readiness and enhanced interoperability among the U.S. and its allies and partner nations.

During the exercise, the 53rd IBCT conducted expeditionary deployment operations, deploying over 1,800 Soldiers and equipment to Albania, North Macedonia, Greece, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Croatia, where they conducted training alongside their host-nation counterparts. While in Albania, they ran basic soldiering skills training with Albanian military cadets to enhance the capabilities of the Albanian military, a key NATO ally in the region. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and North Macedonia, they trained with Bradley Fighting Vehicles and conducted live-fire exercises. The brigade’s ability to deploy and train personnel and equipment exercised its operational ability to support complex force projection and operational missions demonstrating its value and capabilities to U.S. allied and partner nations.

In August and September, the 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the 54th Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB) conducted training at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana. SFABs provide combatant commanders dedicated personnel and resources to missions that would otherwise come temporarily from other units. These relatively new units benefit other organizations in a theater of operations by providing the knowledge management and expertise to conduct robust planning and advising to supported entities, enabling them to better focus on their core training. The SFAB formations gave an exemplary performance, representing the Florida National Guard and validating their proficiency and doctrinal acumen at the foremost combined training center in the nation.

Following the successful completion of DEFENDER-Europe and Joint Readiness Training Center, the 53rd IBCT shifted focus from training to operational support as it deployed seven formations to support operations in both the Middle East and Ukraine. Over 900 Soldiers began the premobilization training leading up to their deployments in October/November 2021. These premobilization requirements were often conducted concurrently during training and other missions, demonstrating the brigade’s versatility and ability to meet the nation’s operational needs as well as provide state mission support. In November and December, these units assumed missions across the globe to secure American interests while building partner nation capability and multinational interoperability.

Throughout 2021, the Gator Brigade continued its high operational tempo and even surpassed the previous year’s mission sets through professional execution of state, international and multi-national operations. In keeping with its motto, the 53rd IBCT remains a premier formation that leads “From the Front!”