The Virginia Department of Military Affairs is repositioning personnel and equipment Feb. 7 in order to assist with possible sheltering and relief operations in the Northern Virginia area.
“As Virginia shifts from recovery and rescue operations to sheltering and assistance operations in the wake of the latest winter storm, the Virginia Guard is repositioning personnel equipment so we can assist the Virginia State Police and other state and local emergency response organizations if needed,” said Col. Rob McMillin, Virginia National Guard joint operations officer.
Virginia Guard standby operations in Gate City, Abingdon and Wytheville have stood down, and some Soldiers stationed there will reposition to a staging location in Fairfax for possible future missions. Soldiers from Lexington and Christiansburg will be consolidated with Soldiers already in Staunton.
The Virginia National Guard plans to have approximately 500 personnel with vehicles in place by late afternoon at the following locations:
o Approximately 100 Soldiers and 40 medium trucks in Fairfax
o Approximately 70 Soldiers, 22 Humvees and four cargo trucks in Staunton
o Approximately 45 Soldiers, four Humvees and one cargo truck in Harrisonburg
o Approximately 80 Soldiers, 10 Humvees and three cargo trucks in Winchester
o Approximately 65 Soldiers, 13 Humvees and five cargo trucks in Leesburg
o Approximately 50 Soldiers, nine Humvees and five cargo trucks in Warrenton
o Approximately 50 Soldiers, 27 Humvees and 12 cargo trucks in Fredericksburg
o Approximately 50 Soldiers, 15 Humvees and eight trucks in Charlottesville
The cargo trucks are capable of transporting cargo and between 12 and 20 people, depending on the exact configuration.
The Virginia National Guard works as part of a team with the Virginia Department of Emergency Services, the Virginia State Police, the Virginia Department of Transportation and Virginia Department of Social Services, McMillin said. He stressed that the Virginia National Guard receives their missions through the VDEM to assist state and local emergency response organizations and is not able to respond to direct support requests from the public.
“During the winter storm in December 2009, we received calls directly from citizens, and we are not able to respond to those requests.” McMillin said. “We urge people who need assistance to make a request through their local dispatcher or 911 service, and that request will be forwarded to the DMA when appropriate.”
The following personnel are on duty to provide planning, command and control functions:
o Approximately 50 Soldiers, Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force are on duty at the Joint Operations Center in Sandston and Virginia Emergency Operations Center in Richmond conducting planning and command and control functions.
o Approximately 35 personnel from the Sandston-based 91st Troop Command are on duty in Sandston as Joint Task Force 91, the command and command control headquarters for all field units.
o Approximately 25 personnel are on duty in Fort Pickett conducting logistics planning and support.
This is the third time since the middle of December the DMA has put personnel on weather-related duty. The DMA had nearly 250 Soldiers, Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force on duty in Richmond and throughout Southern Virginia providing assistance with transportation, evacuation and rescue operations and general support to state and local emergency response organizations in response to a winter storm that hit the Commonwealth Jan. 29.
The DMA had nearly 700 Soldiers, Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force on state active duty to assist state and local authorities with the response to a major winter storm that began Dec. 18, 2009. Soldiers and Airmen were on duty along the I-81 corridor from Winchester to Danville, and also conducted support operations in Lynchburg, Stafford and Charlottesville. Soldiers continued to operate in the Southwest Virginia area through Dec. 24.
The Virginia Department of Military Affairs plans, coordinates, maintains situational awareness and employ forces for homeland security and homeland defense in order to respond to any incidents with the Commonwealth. On order of the Governor, the Department of Military Affairs will provide capabilities to assist civil authorities in protecting life and property, preserving peace, order and public safety. The Virginia Defense Force, the Virginia Air National Guard and the Virginia Army National Guard all fall under the Virginia Department of Military Affairs.