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National Guard troops prepare for winter storm duties

By Steve Marshall | National Guard Bureau | January 12, 2016

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ARLINGTON, Va. - As winter spreads across much of the country, National Guard units are rehearsing to ensure readiness for snow assistance.

In Colorado over the past weekend, the state National Guard, U.S. Army and many other agencies participated in a simulated blizzard response.

On the East Coast, where mild Christmas weather gave way to seasonal temperatures,  the North Carolina National Guard's 230th Brigade Support Battalion, based in Goldsboro, tested its readiness with a state active-duty exercise at armories in Goldsboro, Kinston, Dunn and Benson on Jan. 9.

Colorado's exercise involved 29 agencies and nearly 900 participants in the area of San Luis Valley, the City of Evans, and El Paso County.

"The Colorado National Guard is eager to train with our interagency partners so we're prepared in the event of a real emergency," said Air Force Maj. Gen. H. Michael Edwards, adjutant general of Colorado and commander of the Colorado National Guard. "We're always ready to assist our community when called on by civil authorities."

In addition to the weekend exercise, Colorado National Guard Snow Response Teams (SRT) trained for search-and-rescue operations near Hahns Peak in the vicinity of Steamboat Springs all week. An SRT is composed of five Soldiers and two small-unit support vehicles (SUSV).

The SUSV is a fully tracked, articulated vehicle designed to operate off road in a variety of conditions and environments. These specialized vehicles, used by the National Guard in such locales as Colorado, Alaska, Maine, Minnesota and Vermont, are most often employed to evacuate people trapped in winter storms. The vehicles are a federally funded resource used solely for domestic response.

In North Carolina, brigade leaders assigned several force packages, preselected teams of Soldiers and equipment designed to support civil authorities during a disaster. In total, four Force Packages deployed, two from Goldsboro with vehicle recovery and medical missions, one from Dunn with a commodities distribution mission and one from Benson with a refueling mission.

"It is a confidence builder; it makes Soldiers understand how our force packages work so when they are called out it takes the mystery away," said Army Master Sgt. Timothy Bowden, 230th Brigade Support Battalion senior maintenance noncommissioned officer.

Contributing: The Colorado National Guard and Sgt. 1st Class Robert Jordan of the North Carolina National Guard