Feb. 12, 2010

Joint Sustainment Center Supports Virginia National Guard state emergency response operations

By Sgt. Andrew H. Owen
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

SANDSTON, Va. — In a conference room of the Virginia National Guard Joint Operations Center three colonels from the joint staff have set up shop to providing sustainment to all Department of Military Affairs personnel serving on state active duty in response to winter storms that have made many areas of the commonwealth inaccessible in the early days of February.

 

The Virginia National Guard Joint Sustainment Center makes sure that Soldiers in the field have the fuel, food, lodging and other logistics support they need to sustain operations. (Photo by Maj. Cotton Puryear, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Please visit the Virginia Guard Flickr page for more photos.

The J-1 (joint director of manpower and personnel), J-4 (joint director of logistics) and J-8 (joint resource officer) took control of the conference room to carve out a space where they could work hand in hand and in close proximity to one another in a new cell they are calling the Joint Sustainment Center.  In the cell they work closely with the director of the JOC determining together what missions are being directed and how the Guard will provide pay, food, equipment, shelter and fuel for the Soldiers, Airmen and Defense Force personnel responding to the winter storm mission, and how the Guard will be reimbursed for these operations.

“You have a natural disaster, to do these response operations, both joint centers have to operate together to be effective,” said Army Col. Timothy Mantz, director of the JSC. “The Joint Operations Center receives mission assignments from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. The mission assignments drive the JSC planning staff to determine how best to support response operations to any type of disaster.”

The JSC takes the information it receives from the JOC and the three joint staff officers along with their planning teams formulate a plan based on the amount of personnel required and the type of equipment they will need to carry out the operations for the duration of the missions.

“We have to look at the mission assignments and say, what do we need to do  in sustainment operations to accomplish the mission, to help the director of the JOC and the Virginia National Guard state active duty forces on the ground be successful,” said Mantz. “We have all these key players in the JSC and we huddle several times daily with our planners to make course corrections to sustainment operation in support of mission assignments.”

The first step in the JSC is determining how many Soldiers, Airmen, and Defense Force personnel are available throughout the state to send on missions to support the operation. The number of people allowed to support operations is determined by the maximum set by the Governor in his declaration of a state emergency.  The J-1 can provide the JOC with updates on how many troops are available and how close the state is to reaching the limit of personnel authorized currently serving in a state active duty capacity.

“The main thing we do every day is track the number of personnel that are out on duty and the status of those personnel,” according to Army Col. Thomas L. Morgan, III, director of manpower and personnel. “We work closely with the J-3 (operations) on the number of personnel on state active duty because the governor sets the cap. We look at what’s there, what they’re planning on doing, and let them know if they are going to go over if they need more personnel.”

“My numbers drive how many people he (Mantz) feeds and they drive how many the J-8 needs to worry about paying,” said Morgan. “The control is there so that the resources are there from the J-4 and that the pay is being tracked and the governor understands how much money is being spent on DMA assets and support.

Once the numbers of personnel and all the requirements for sustaining the operations are calculated the next step is to make certain that everything is paid for and that the appropriate funds are sent to the right agencies and departments and the Soldiers and Airmen are properly paid for their time and efforts.

“We’re just trying to make sure everything gets annotated correctly and Soldiers can get compensated for the great work they are doing,” said Army Col. Janice Igou, joint resource officer.

Requests for the funding typically begin as soon as the Guard is notified of an emergency, and everybody want s to know right away if there is going to be money available immediately to support bringing a large number of  Guard members on duty to support state emergencies.

“The reason you hear the governor declare a state of emergency ahead of the bad weather is two-fold:  not only are critical assets pre-positioned, but the funding is established,” said Igou. “They’re asking me for estimates right away, ‘How much is it going to cost to bring 500 Guardsmen on?’” 

Although the National Guard is commanded by the governor, the money it takes to operate the Guard and the Guard equipment is federally funded. When the governor declares a state emergency and activates the Guard for duty it is then the responsibility of the state to compensate the federal government for the use of the personnel and equipment used in the operations. The J-8 ensures that the money is repaid through the proper channels.

“We work for the Governor, but we’re a federal asset and this equipment belongs to the federal government. When we get our equipment out there on the roads, there is a cost associated with that and so the federal government needs to be reimbursed,” according to Igou. “All those little things, the gas, the mileage, etc- there’s a factor that is applied; expenses are tracked; and the mechanisms are put in place for reimbursement.”

With the combined efforts of these three joint staff officers and their teams the missions of the Virginia National Guard are being completed and they will continue to be able to sustain operations indefinitely as long as these teams are coordinating to provide mission essential supplies and resources.

“While the operators are managing missions and the current situation, it is then our job in the sustainment center to ensure the forces around the commonwealth are adequately supported,” said Igou.

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