Feb. 10, 2010
Joint Task Force 91 coordinates snow response
By Capt. Darren Hunter
JTF 91 Public Affairs
SANDSTON, Va. — When the February 2010 snowstorm dubbed ‘Snowpocalypse’ was in high gear, the Sandston-based Joint Task Force 91 closely managed the Virginia National Guard’s extensive support operation as part of a team of state agencies working day and night to keep critical infrastructure intact, roads cleared and residents safe.
Soldiers from the Sandston-based 91st Troop Command are on duty as Jopint Task Force 91, the command and control headquarters for all field units conducting support missions in the wake of a major winter storm to hit Virginia Feb. 5. Personnel from JTF 91 made sure information flowed effectively between units conducting missions and the JOC and that all necessary logistics coordination was made to provide food and lodging for personnel on duty.
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The Virginia Army and Air National Guard, along with the Virginia Defense Force, make up the Virginia Department of Military Affairs, the governor’s military support component. The DMA’s Joint Operations Center works closely with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to coordinate support with local and regional emergency response centers, and JTF 91 is the vital link between the JOC and units in the field assisting citizens of the commonwealth.
“In layman’s terms, the JOC maintains strategic level oversight of all Virginia National Guard missions and assets. At any given time, the JOC can provide a common operating picture of statewide operations to Maj. Gen. Robert B. Newman, Jr, the adjutant general of Virginia,” said Col. Steven Scott, commander of the JTF 91. “Whereas the JOC is the mission manager, JTF 91 ensures mission execution and serves as the ground-forces command for all units throughout the state. While we are not executing the missions per se, our oversight ensures that Virginia receives the needed support,” said Scott.
A blend of the Richmond-based 91st Troop Command and the Fairfax-based Data Processing Unit, the JTF 91 staff of 39 Soldiers constantly monitors phones, email, tactical satellite communications, and video teleconferences to ensure clear lines of communication to and from the field.
“Without clarity, you have confusion. We cannot afford confusion during emergency situations,” said Sgt. 1st Class Reginald Davis, a JTF 91 operations sergeant.
Often, the missions of Virginia’s Guardsmen directly impact the health and welfare of state residents. Clearly, the JTF 91 cannot afford any room for error in its communications.
It is the behind-scenes efforts of the JOC and JTF 91 which integrate into the overall VDEM’s mission. “It is a team effort,” said Scott. “We pride ourselves in supporting Virginia’s most critical asset: its’ citizens.”