Va. National Guard staged for possible snow response operations across Northern Virginia

Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Manassas-based 266th Military Police Company, 1030th Transportation Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group line up vehicles for possible snow response operations March 13, 2017, in Manassas, Virginia. (Contributed photo)

Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Manassas-based 266th Military Police Company, 1030th Transportation Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group line up vehicles for possible snow response operations March 13, 2017, in Manassas, Virginia. (U.S. National Guard photo by Capt. Matthew Negard)

SANDSTON, Va. — The Virginia National Guard staged nearly 200 personnel to be ready for duty at key locations across Northern Virginia to assist with the state’s multi-agency response to possible heavy snow March 14, 2017. When snow totals amounted to far less than forecasted, Soldiers were able to stand down, and the Virginia Guard returned to routine operations later in the day.

“Once again our Soldiers have demonstrated their ability to safely and rapidly position troops and equipment at key locations so they are ready to assist citizens of the Commonwealth during times of hazardous weather,” said Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia. “Our emergency response partners at the state and local level count on our capabilities as part of the overall response plan, and we continue to demonstrate that we are a force that will always be there when we are needed. We also owe a special thanks to our families and employers for their support that is so vital to our success.”

Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and 329th Regional Support Group began moving into position Monday afternoon and were staged and ready late Monday evening.

Additional Soldiers, Airmen and Virginia Defense Force members are on duty in Richmond, Sandston and Fort Pickett providing mission command, sustainment and public information support. The VDF also has incident management assistance teams supporting Guard units at multiple field locations.

Photos of Virginia National Guard Soldiers staging equipment on Flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/albums/72157678006564003

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Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency March 13 and authorized state agencies to assist local governments as they prepare and respond to the coming winter weather over the next 24 hours. In a news release, he urged Virginians to prepare for this major winter storm which could dump up to a foot or more of snow in northern regions of the Commonwealth.

“Virginians may have enjoyed milder temperatures for the past several weeks, but the forecast is calling for winter weather to return to the Commonwealth this week with what could be a major winter storm for northern portions of the Commonwealth,” said McAuliffe. “With this forecast in mind, all Virginians should take the necessary precautions now to ensure they are prepared for travel disruptions and possible power outages during a cold weather period.”

In declaring a state of emergency, the governor authorizes state agencies to identify and position resources for quick response anywhere they are needed in Virginia.

“We anticipate that localities across Northern Virginia will need high mobility transport capabilities, and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management requested we stage resources in those areas in order to rapidly respond if needed,” said Col. Thomas L. Morgan, III, Virginia National Guard director of joint operations. “The key to a rapid response is getting our people and equipment in place before the snow hits, so we are moving people Monday night and plan to be ready to support localities after midnight if needed.”

During domestic operations, the Virginia National Guard receives missions through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to assist the Virginia State Police and other state and local emergency service organizations and is not able to respond to direct support requests from the public, Morgan said.

“If you are in a dangerous situation and need assistance, please contact your local dispatcher or call 911,” Morgan explained. “If you let them know you need help, they will determine the most effective emergency services response for your situation. They will contact the Guard if it is appropriate for us to respond, and we will follow up as quickly as possible.”

The Virginia National Guard last served on state active duty Jan. 7-9, 2017, when nearly 200 personnel were on duty in the Hampton Roads area with less than 12 hours notification. Soldiers were staged and ready the morning of Jan. 7, and their assistance included recovering a fire truck in Newport News and helping Virginia State Police clear abandoned vehicles in Accomack County.

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 the last 18 months 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 members also assisted with mission command, logistics and public information support.

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