9/11 terrorist attacks create lasting impact on U.S. National Guard

Published: Sep. 12, 2021 at 10:57 AM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The terrorist attacks on 9/11 sparked many changes in the U.S., among them the duties of the National Guard.

The military organization decided that their role in national security and how they train for it now needed to evolve.

Wisconsin National Guard Adjutant General Paul Knapp was an F-15 pilot stationed in Mountain Home, Idaho when the Twin Towers fell 20 years ago. Following the attacks, he was called in and spent the next weeks flying missions over Afghanistan.

“The first thing that comes to mind when I think about 911 over the last 20 years is the motto that came out right away and that was never forget.” says Knapp.

With a change in focus came a change in training, and the difficult task of integrating the National Guard in with the Army and Air Force. Along with those in the Army and Air Force, those who’ve joined the National Guard since the 9/11 attacks have also faced the potential of deploying somewhere overseas.

“It’s pretty safe to say that a soldier in the Wisconsin National Guard today who hasn’t deployed yet but, he’s only been in 3 or 4 years is still far better prepared to do their military job than I was at my same point in my career,” says Historian with the National Guard, Major Brian Faltinson.

“Just the level of leadership and training opportunities and the different problems this organization has worked though that collective memory has tremendously improved since prior to 9/11.”

Adjutant General Knapp says since the National Guard began working with the Army and Air Force, they’ve become a more professional force.

“When you have everyone pulling together, going in the same direction, no challenge is insurmountable.”

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