As of Wednesday morning, 69,000 National Guard members are supporting homeland operations at the direction of their governors. The current number represents activations for civil unrest, COVID-19, and natural disasters. Presently, there are nearly 104,000 Guard men and women engaged in homeland and overseas missions.
This number surpassed the approximate 51,000 Guard members activated during the 2005 Hurricane Katrina response.
More than 26,500 National Guard members remain activated in states across the country to assist state and local law enforcement in support of civil unrest operations. The numbers are steadily decreasing as governors assess their needs.
“Our troops are trained to protect life, and to preserve property, peace and public safety,” said Gen. Joseph Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau.”
Since May 30, the District of Columbia National Guard personnel have protected public transit stations and businesses near protests in response to the death of George Floyd.
As the demonstrations continued, the D.C. National Guard saw its mission evolve.
As citizen-soldiers and -airmen, their immediate mission is in their communities. One such citizen-soldier is 1st Lt. John McGlothlin, an Army attorney with the National Guard legal support office, D.C. Army National Guard.
“I live about a 15-minute walk from here,” said McGlothlin. “It’s hard for people to get out there and express themselves if they’re worried about something bad happening – something being lit on fire or something being broken. There are a lot of people who want to come out and protest, and they’re a little unsure about whether it’s a safe thing to do. We’re trying to make sure that they feel safe enough to come out here and express their opinions.”
Soldiers and airmen who were once armed with riot gear transitioned to plain uniforms with medical kits, ready to respond to medical emergencies, as was the case when a runner passed out near the Lincoln Memorial June 4 and was revived by airmen with the 113th Wing, D.C. Air National Guard.
While civil unrest missions come to a close in states across the country, the COVID-19 response mission continues.
More than 100 West Virginia National Guard soldiers and airmen are supplying personal protective equipment and provisions to first responders and medical professionals.
In early March, when the COVID-19 pandemic began to sweep across the United States, one of the first lines of effort identified was to rapidly push much- needed stock supplies of PPE to first responder agencies and medical professionals around the Mountain State. To assist with this effort, the WVNG established Task Force Sustainment.
“At the very beginning of the pandemic, there was a need to distribute as much PPE as possible to each county, every day, as existing supplies were in critical demand,” said Sgt. Maj. David Lucas, with task force leadership.
“At that point in standing up our operations, we were also gathering as much details and data as possible on total needs for each community around the state in order to provide rapid response to any potential outbreak locations that might have seen a spike in COVID-19 cases,” he said. “So, having our folks on the ground in each county every day helped us to have greater immediate and overall situational awareness in order to maximize and streamline our efforts.”
Additional missions currently being performed by National Guard men and women include wildfire and flood response, as well as cyber support. June 1 was the official start of the hurricane season, a response mission the National Guard routinely prepares for.
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