Adjutant General COVID-19 Update: April 23, 2020
Virginia National Guard Team:
It has been nearly six weeks since Virginia declared a state of emergency and kicked off a multi-agency response to COVID-19. Virginia National Guard and Virginia Defense Force personnel immediately went to work assisting with operations, logistics and medical planning, and now we are starting to see an increase in missions directly supporting localities and state partner agencies.
Soldiers are delivering supplies and helping with logistics at food pantries in the Fredericksburg area, as well as assisting with logistics at testing sites in the Roanoke and New River Valley areas. Soldiers and Airmen are working directly with the Virginia Department of Health to train on how we can help provide additional capacity and capabilities for testing efforts.
This is exactly what the National Guard is meant to do in our homeland defense mission. Our state and local partners count on us to help them fill gaps and help provide the support our fellow Virginians need. Our ability to do that effectively is more important than it has ever been.
This week we brought additional personnel on duty and postured them across the state to make sure we can quickly respond as needed. I thank everyone for the hard work that went into making that happen.
The impacts of COVID-19 continue to impact our planned training opportunities. We received official notification from U.S. Forces Command that the Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team will not conduct their scheduled summer 2020 rotation to the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana. Since we were not able to conduct in-person training in March and April and anticipated virtual drills in May and possibly June, the Soldiers of the 116th can’t meet critical benchmarks required to be fully mission ready for the rotation.
We also need to fully focus on being ready for possible support missions to assist with Virginia’s multi-agency response to the pandemic, and it is too early to tell what our mission requirements will be in June and July.
Right now our operational planners are working on possible courses of action for annual training, and we will share more details once those plans are more finalized.
Soldiers of the 116th have spent countless hours training to prepare for JRTC, and it is incredibly unfortunate they will not conduct the rotation at one of the Army’s premiere training locations. Even though the brigade will not conduct the rotation, the hard work and long hours resulted in a more ready unit.
Every Soldier in the brigade is more ready to conduct both their state and federal mission as a result of their train up for JRTC rotation, and I thank them for everything they did to be ready. We also owe a special thanks to their families and employers for everything they did to support them along the way.
The support we get from our families, employers and communities is part of the entire team effort for everything we do in the Virginia National Guard. With their support, along with our Soldiers, Airmen and VDF personnel and Virginia Department of Military Affairs federal and state workforce, we force can and will chart a course through the challenges of this pandemic and do everything possible to find a path to health, safety and mission accomplishment!
Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams,
28th Adjutant General of Virginia