As the weather forecast grew in confidence that Winter Storm JONAS, a blizzard with snowfall projections in excess of 20-30”, would impact Virginia beginning on 22 January, state and local government authorities began planning to position assets to protect life and property. The Joint Force Headquarters (JFHQ) of the Virginia Department of Military Affairs (DMA) convened planning teams with the operational leadership of the Army and Air National Guard and the Virginia Defense Force (VDF) to ready its respond with an array of capabilities to augment state and local responses. With a preemptory state of emergency declaration by Governor McAuliffe on the 21st, planning quickly went to the execution phase with the activation of up to 500 DMA members. Of this number, 47 members of the VDF supported the response. Members of the VDF deployed from their home stations to man command and control (C2) nodes at nine readiness centers that ran the length and breadth of the state. At these readiness centers, VDF members provided C2 linkages to the JFHQ located in Richmond. These VDF C2 teams passed tasking to their supported VaNG commanders who deployed assets in support of state agencies and local civilian authorities. Status reporting was also passed back to the JFHQ as missions were completed and assets were returned to execute their next mission tasking. Additionally, VDF personnel deployed to the JFHQ to augment the J-1 and J-3 staffs and to the Headquarters of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM). At VDEM, these VDF personnel served the essential role of translating requests from civilian authorities into military capabilities and then communicating these requests to the JFHQ for sourcing. The VDF also deployed for the first-time a public affairs detachment to directly support The Adjutant General to convey, through multiple media outlets, the response of the VaNG to this storm. As the storm ended, assets redeployed, and local authorities continued clean-up operations, the VDF, as part of the DMA team, could be very proud of their support in shaping the response of the Commonwealth in service to their fellow citizens.
New York Guard (State Defense Force) Legal Support Help Deploying Airmen
Photos by 2nd LT JOSEPH ANTHONY DEMPSEY, 56th Brigade, LSO Detachment
STEWART NATIONAL GUARD AIR BASE, NEWBURGH, N.Y.– On July 24 2015, over 10 New York Guard Soldiers from the New York Guard 56th Brigade and additional units participated in a Legal Services Operation, in support of a Yellow Ribbon Event for deploying Airmen of the New York Air National Guard and their families.
Led by Maj. Steven Hartov, JAG officers Captains Brian Kanner and Captain Frederick Marasco, together with 1st Lieutenant Robert Ellis, Jr. and 2nd Lieutenant Joseph Dempsey provided legal counsel, prepared wills and powers of attorney, and briefed soldiers on their legal rights as deploying military members. In addition to legal support, Chaplains from the New York guard provided Chaplain Services and support.
“These Yellow Ribbon operations are a great way for the New York Guard to provide much needed assistance to soldiers deploying to some dangerous places. Worrying about legal problems facing you or your family back home needlessly adds to the stress of overseas deployments and takes focus away from the job at hand. We work to put soldier’s minds at ease so they can focus on the mission,” 2nd Lieutenant Dempsey said.
Soldiers from the New York Guard 56th Brigade, Legal Support Unit (R) help deploying New York Air National Guard service members with legal forms and documents during a Yellow Ribbon pre-deployment event.
Fort Gordon, Augusta, Georgia, October 4, 2015 – Thirty-six Georgia State Defense Force (GSDF) Soldiers were recently activated to support hurricane relief efforts near Augusta, Georgia. Hurricane Joaquin had been relentlessly pounding the eastern United States for several days; as a result, numerous areas experienced severe flooding.
GSDF Soldiers, working alongside Georgia Army National Guard (GAARNG) Soldiers, filled 8,000 sandbags and loaded them onto eight flatbed trailers. The sandbags were used to create a water buffer to control flooding in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Total over 100 Soldiers from GSDF and GAARNG (810th Engineer Company and 278th Military Police Company) supported the relief activities. The Fort Stewart Youth Challenge Academy sent cadets from their 2nd Battalion to help, as well.
Col. William Bryant, Commander of 1st Brigade, GSDF, said, “It’s great to see our Soldiers work hand-in-hand with the Guard to support the citizens of Georgia.”
South Carolina State Guard’s commander, MG(SC) Thomas S. Mullikin, actively participated with the National Guard contingent in the planning and execution of disaster relief operations during the recent Hurricane Joaquin event.
In this statewide emergency the volunteer professionals of the South Carolina State Guard served across the state. There were more than 100 State Guard members, from all three brigades and the headquarters detachment, providing engineering assessments in Newberry, manning the state Emergency Operations Center in Columbia, and filling sandbags in the Low Country. They provided strategic planning, augmented law enforcement, and provided engineering assistance – all at no cost to the state of SC.