Virginia National Guard assists with winter storm response in Hampton Roads

Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Emporia-based 1710th Transportation Company, 1030th Transportation Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group assist Virginia State Police with checking abandoned vehicles Jan. 9, 2017, in Onancock, Virginia. VSP troopers are working to tow abandoned vehicles to make way for snow removal teams clearing roads in the area. (Photo courtesy 1710th Transportation Company, Virginia National Guard)

Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Emporia-based 1710th Transportation Company, 1030th Transportation Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group assist Virginia State Police with checking abandoned vehicles Jan. 9, 2017, in Onancock, Virginia. VSP troopers are working to tow abandoned vehicles to make way for snow removal teams clearing roads in the area. (Photo courtesy 1710th Transportation Company, Virginia National Guard)

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA. — Nearly 200 members of the Virginia National Guard were on duty and ready to assist with the state’s multi-agency response to heavy snow Jan. 7-9, 2017, throughout the Hampton Roads area. Soldiers were staged and ready the morning of Jan. 7 with less than 12 hours notification, and their assistance included recovering a fire truck in Newport News and helping Virginia State Police clear abandoned vehicles in Accomack County.

“I am incredibly proud of how quickly our forces were able to stage Friday night in order to be ready for possible missions Saturday morning, and most importantly they did it safely,” said Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia. “Our state and local partners count on us to provide the capabilities they need in order to help the citizens of the commonwealth when faced with hazardous weather situations, and once again our Soldiers, Airmen and Virginia Defense Force troopers have demonstrated we are able to rapidly respond when we are needed.”

Anticipating the need for law enforcement and EMS to travel through heavy snow, the Guard staged personnel with high mobility vehicles at readiness center throughout the region. Several localities requested Guard assistance through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, so Soldiers with Humvees or light/medium tactical trucks deployed to firehouses and EMS facilities in multiple locations.

The Virginia Beach-based 329th Regional Support Group provided mission command for the operation, and Hampton Roads area units from the 329th and 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team provided the Soldiers and vehicles.

Additional Soldiers, Airmen and Virginia Defense Force troopers were on duty in Sandston and Fort Pickett providing mission command, sustainment, incident management assistance and public information support.

Sustainment support for the operation kicked off Jan. 6 when Logistics Operations Centers was established at Fort Pickett and in Sandston. Field maintenance shops were activated to provide support for units in the field as well as to provide wreckers for response operations. Logisticians also pushed out rations and chain saws to units in the field and coordinated for meal contracts and additional maintenance support as needed.

The VDF had 23 personnel on duty to augment operations centers in Richmond and Sandston, provide incident management assistance and communications support in the field as well as public information support at the Virginia Department of Emergency Management’s Joint Information Center and units conducting field operations.

The VDF is the Virginia National Guard’s all-volunteer reserve force authorized by the Code of Virginia and reporting to the Adjutant General of Virginia. Members of the VDF volunteer their time for training and community support and are only paid when called to state active duty by an authorization from the Governor of Virginia.

Members of the VDF train and operate side-by-side with the Virginia Army National Guard and Virginia Air National Guard as part of a multi-agency state response team. They are integrated into all Guard domestic operations and serve as a force multiplier to provide important additional capabilities to help the Guard assist citizens in their time of need.

Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency Jan. 6, 2017, and urged residents of the commonwealth to prepare for impacts from a winter storm system, which potentially could result in significant snow accumulation, hazardous road conditions and high winds. This order authorizes state agencies to assist local governments in responding to this major winter storm that is expected to impact the commonwealth through the weekend.

About the Virginia National Guard:

The Virginia National Guard is a unique dual-status force with a federal mission to provide an combat reserve to fight our nation’s wars and a state mission to provide a response force that answers the call of the Governor to defend the commonwealth.

Nearly 1,500 Soldiers and Airmen served on federal active duty in 2016, and Virginia Guard units conducted a wide variety of missions including mission command, military-to-military partnership building, security and rotary wing flight operations and maintenance. Nearly 850 personnel are still serving on federal active duty in the Middle East, and they join the nearly 15,000 Soldiers and Airmen who have mobilized for homeland security missions, combat operations and peacekeeping and stabilization missions since September 11, 2001.

More than 900 Va. Guard personnel served on state active duty in 2016 in response to severe weather events as part of the state’s multi-agency team. Soldiers transported first responders through heavy snow and high water, helped get citizens to safety and used chain saws to help clear debris and open roads after tornadoes and hurricanes. Soldiers, Airmen and Virginia Defense Force troopers also assisted with mission command, logistics and public information support.