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National Guard continues responding to domestic operations

20-063 | June 24, 2020

More than 42,000 National Guard members are supporting domestic operations across the United States at the direction of their governors as of Wednesday morning. This includes support to COVID-19, civil disturbance, and natural disaster missions such as floods and wildfires.

Presently, there are nearly 78,000 Guard men and women engaged in homeland and overseas missions.

More than 36,000 National Guard professionals continue COVID-19 response efforts in all 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia.

For the National Guard, the June 1 through Nov. 1 hurricane season – the time of year when conditions are ideal for hurricanes to form – is part of the yearly planning process.

“We are well-synched and extremely experienced from significant hurricane response efforts over the last few years,” said Air Force Maj. Gen. Steven Nordhaus, the National Guard Bureau’s director of operations. “Though conditions change, to include challenges with the COVID-19 virus, the National Guard will be ready to respond.”

Response efforts, however, will be different this year, Nordhaus said, adding that COVID-19 has meant planning for personal protective equipment and other items.

“Social distancing, PPE, screening and testing, sheltering, and other impacts will cause us to change how we respond,” Nordhaus said. “But we will be ready with our inter-agency partners to save lives, prevent suffering and mitigate destruction to property in the wake of natural disasters.”


National Guard readiness starts with ensuring Guard men and women remain healthy from one domestic response mission to the next. In Texas, National Guard medics are administering COVID-19 antibody tests for service members.

“The test itself is a finger prick with a lancet,” said Texas Army Guard Spc. Joshua Leonard, with the COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Team. “It just needs a few drops of blood.”

Minutes later, service members discuss the results with a physician’s assistant. Should they test positive, it does not necessarily mean they are still ill with COVID, Leonard said. It only means they have been exposed to the virus and their body has formed a defense against it.


West Virginia field artillery unit resumes training

The West Virginia National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 201st Field Artillery Regiment, became the first major unit to resume normal training cycles during the COVID-19 pandemic, conducting a Super MUTA (Multiple Unit Training Assembly) at Camp Dawson June 13-18.

“The pandemic is not going away, but we still have missions to train for,” said Maj. Christopher Shamblin, battalion commander. “Much of the basic military training, such as suicide awareness, information assurance, etc., can be conducted virtually. Our specific skills, on our equipment, need hands-on opportunities in order for us to maintain proficiency.”

That equipment, the M109 A6 Paladin Self-Propelled Howitzer, is the battalion’s primary weapons system.

Shamblin said his unit also had to plan for contingencies, such as active medical monitoring while in the field, how to isolate sick soldiers, and factoring how such illnesses will impact his unit’s overall readiness and mission potential.

“All this while still keeping in mind regular threats to soldiers such as heat stress and normal operational hazards,” he added.


For information regarding this press release, please send an email to the National Guard Bureau Media Operations desk at ng.ncr.ngb-arng.mesg.ngb-media-desk-owner@mail.mil.