As of Wednesday morning, nearly 45,000 National Guard members are supporting homeland operations at the direction of their governors. The current number includes activations for COVID-19, civil unrest, and natural disasters.
Presently, there are nearly 80,000 Guard men and women engaged in homeland and overseas missions.
Almost 37,000 National Guard professionals continue COVID-19 response efforts at the direction of their governors in all 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia.
Additionally, 4,000 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.
“We’re part of the communities we serve. We know the police, fire departments and hospital workers. We know their capabilities because we live with their capabilities,” said Gen. Joseph Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau. “The National Guard has been part of our nation’s fabric since 1636, and we will all get through this time of great challenges together.”
The holiday celebrations of “Tis the season” are months away, but for the North Carolina National Guard, “Tis the season” to prepare for hurricanes.
North Carolina Army National Guard Maj. Aaron Youngblood, director of military support at Joint Force Headquarters in Raleigh, is meeting almost daily to coordinate with North Carolina Emergency Management on issues from sheltering to safety.
“We are focused on our priority vehicles, force packages and preparation for an initial safety recon, which we call ‘Spearhead,’ which includes a significant number of Medium Tactical Vehicles and Humvee vehicles,” Youngblood said.
The NCNG plans to continue following government-mandated COVID-19 precautions. Appropriate personal protective equipment and proper social distancing will be enforced, if the Guard responds to hurricanes in the state.
Michigan National Guard Lt. Col. Lucas Lanczy anticipated this.
Six days into his unit’s annual training, Lanczy, commander of the 107th Engineer Battalion based in Ishpeming, learned three of his Soldiers tested presumed positive for COVID-19. They were tested before training began May 30. Since then, the Soldiers had been living and working together in the field under austere conditions.
Having planned for this very scenario, Lanczy didn’t panic.
“We had a risk mitigation plan in place going into this that assumed anyone in this formation could be COVID-19 positive,” he said. “These procedures were in place from the start of training; testing is a great tool for assessing risk, but it’s these safeguards that actually protect our Soldiers from getting the disease.”
This blueprint for health safety, which includes social distancing, masks and hygiene, had kept Lanczy’s team busy – along with a cadre of Michigan National Guard medical specialists – for months, planning annual training during a global pandemic. They worked with public health officials on details, right down to soap-and-water buckets for Soldiers to regularly clean their masks. To ensure plenty of space for social distancing, the unit was spread across three locations: Marquette County Fairgrounds, Camp Grayling Maneuver Training Center, and Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.
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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