Feb. 4, 2010

Virginia Department of Military Affairs staging personnel for possible snow duty

By Maj. Cotton Puryear
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia Department of Military Affairs is staging more than 400 personnel from the Virginia Army and Air National Guard and Virginia Defense Force at key locations in the commonwealth in preparation for a possible winter storm expected to hit Virginia Feb. 5. Gov. Bob McDonnell declared a state of emergency Feb. 3 and authorized up to 500 DMA personnel for state active duty. If needed, the DMA will bring an additional 100 personnel on duty when the weather picture and state and local support requirements become more clear.

“We are moving DMA personnel into position today in order to be on standby for possible missions to assist state and local emergency response organizations with rescue and transportation operations,” said Col. Rob McMillin, Virginia National Guard joint operations officer. Personnel are expected to be in place by late Thursday night and ready for duty Friday morning.

McMillin stressed that the Virginia National Guard receives their missions through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to assist state and local emergency response organizations and is not able to respond to direct support requests from the public.

“During the winter storm in December 2009, we received calls directly from citizens, and we are not able to respond to those requests.” McMillin said. “We urge people who need assistance to make a request through their local dispatcher or 911 service, and that request will be forwarded to the DMA when appropriate.”

McMillin said the initial plan is to place Virginia National Guard personnel with Humvees on duty at the following locations, but it is subject to change based on possible changing weather conditions:

  • Approximately 30 personnel are scheduled to be on duty in Abingdon.
  • Approximately 15 personnel are scheduled to be on duty in Lexington.
  • Approximately 30 personnel are scheduled to be on duty in Staunton.
  • Approximately 30 personnel are scheduled to be on duty in Wytheville.
  • Approximately 30 personnel are scheduled to be on duty in Christiansburg.
  • Approximately 15 personnel are scheduled to be on duty in the Hampton Roads area.
  • Approximately 36 personnel are scheduled to be on duty in Charlottesville.
  • Approximately 30 personnel are scheduled to be on duty in Harrisonburg.
  • Approximately 15 personnel are scheduled to be on duty in Stafford.
  • Approximately 30 personnel are scheduled to be on duty in Warrenton.
  • Approximately 30 personnel are scheduled to be on duty in Winchester.

The following personnel are scheduled to be on duty to provide planning, command and control functions:

  • Approximately 50 Soldiers, Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force are scheduled to be on duty at the Joint Operations Center in Sandston and Virginia Emergency Operations Center in Richmond conducting planning and command and control functions.
  • Approximately 35 personnel from the Sandston-based 91st Troop Command are scheduled to be on duty in Sandston as Joint Task Force 91, the command and command control headquarters for all field units.
  • Approximately 25 personnel are scheduled to be on duty in Fort Pickett conducting logistics planning and support.

This is the third time since the middle of December the DMA has put personnel on weather-related duty. The DMA had nearly 250 Soldiers, Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force on duty in Richmond and throughout Southern Virginia providing assistance with transportation, evacuation and rescue operations and general support to state and local emergency response organizations in response to a winter storm that hit the Commonwealth Jan. 29.

The DMA had nearly 700 Soldiers, Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force on state active duty to assist state and local authorities with the response to a major winter storm that began Dec. 18, 2009. Soldiers and Airmen were on duty along the I-81 corridor from Winchester to Danville, and also conducted support operations in Lynchburg, Stafford and Charlottesville. Soldiers continued to operate in the Southwest Virginia area through Dec. 24.

The Virginia Department of Military Affairs plans, coordinates, maintains situational awareness and employ forces for homeland security and homeland defense in order to respond to any incidents with the Commonwealth.  On order of the Governor, the Department of Military Affairs will provide capabilities to assist civil authorities in protecting life and property, preserving peace, order and public safety.  The Virginia Defense Force, the Virginia Air National Guard and the Virginia Army National Guard all fall under the Virginia Department of Military Affairs.

Related stories:

January 2010 winter storm wrap up

December 2009 winter storm wrap up

Photos from December 2009 snow duty

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