NEWS | Jan. 26, 2022

VNG assists with statewide response for series of winter storms

By Cotton Puryear | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office

The Virginia National Guard staged personnel and equipment for three different winter storms over a two-week period in January 2022 as part of the statewide emergency response. During the first storm, VNG troops helped open a road in Stafford County and clear trees along a power line route in Louisa County. Teams staged and ready during the other two storms did not receive any missions after snow accumulation ended up lower than forecasted.

“I am incredibly proud of the tremendous team effort that went into getting Virginia National Guard personnel in place and ready to respond for possible multiple winter weather events,” said Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia. “During the first storm, our teams helped make a difference by assisting localities clear fallen trees. Even though we didn’t get any missions during the second two storms, having our personnel at key locations in case they were needed was an important part of the commonwealth’s overall response plan. Our local and state partners count on us to provide the capabilities Virginia communities request, and once again we made sure we were there if needed. Smaller-scale events like these will help us be better prepared for doing our part for a much bigger response.”

Williams explained the first snow response was even more impressive given the VNG was also taking part in the Inauguration of the 74th Governor of Virginia.

“At the same time we were preparing for the first winter storm response, we were also supporting the inauguration of Governor Glenn Youngkin as our new commander in chief,” Williams said. “Once again our entire team came together: the Joint, Army, Air and Virginia Defense Force staffs along with the critical support from our amazing state employees in the Virginia Department of Military Affairs. Working together, they made sure both the inauguration and storm response missions were extremely well executed."

For all three storms, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management requested high mobility transportation and debris reduction capabilities, so the VNG staged personnel with heavy duty vehicles capable of traveling through deep snow and chainsaws for reducing debris from fallen trees.

During the first snow storm response, VNG Soldiers and Airmen helped open roads in Stafford County and cleared trees along power line routes in Louisa County.

VNG Soldiers assigned to the Powhatan-based 180th Engineer Company, 276th Engineer Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group cleared trees along a power line route to help with electricity restoration efforts Jan. 8, 2022, in Louisa County, Virginia. After confirmation the power lines on the route were not active, Soldiers used chain saws to clear trees so Rappahannock Electric Cooperative crews could rehang the lines to help restore power in the area.

VNG Airmen assigned to the Virginia Beach-based 203rd Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers, 192nd Mission Support Group, 192nd Wing use chain saws to help reduce debris and clear roads of fallen trees Jan. 7, 2022, in Stafford County, Virginia. The Airmen cleared about 25 trees to open a road that had been blocked since Jan. 3.

For the second winter storm, the VNG staged approximately 75 personnel Jan. 16, 2022, at key locations along the I-81 corridor and the northern sections of the I-95 and Route 29 corridors. The following units supported the response:

- The Blackstone-based 3647th Maintenance Company, 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group deployed to Charlottesville and Staunton.
- The Rocky Mount-based 229the Chemical Company, 1030th Transportation Battalion, 329th RSG deployed to Troutville.
- The Cedar Bluff-based 1033rd Engineer Company, 276th Engineer Battalion, 329th RSG deployed teams to Pulaski, Abingdon, Gate City and Cedar Bluff
- The Winchester-based 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team deployed troops to Winchester, Fredericksburg and Culpeper.
- The Virginia Beach-based 529th CSSB provided mission command for the operation.

For the third winter storm, the VNG staged approximately 45 Soldiers and Airmen Jan. 21, 2022, at key locations along the southern I-95 corridor and the Hampton Roads and Eastern Shore areas. Personnel were alerted Jan. 20, mustered the next morning and deployed in the afternoon to VNG armories in Petersburg, Emporia, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach and Onancock.

VNG Soldiers assigned to the Portsmouth-based 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and the 203rd RED HORSE provided personnel for mission, the 2-183rd had overall mission command for the response.

State civilians from the Virginia Department of Military Affairs assisted with procuring meals and hotel rooms for personnel involved in the response as well issuing fuel cards to units in the field and assisting the J1 Personnel Directorate with processing paperwork to get personnel paid.

Additional Soldiers, Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force are also on duty to provide logistics, administrative and operations center support in the Richmond area.

The VDF fielded new logistics support capabilities for the second and third winter storms, helping make sure VNG units would have all the equipment needed to be successful in their assigned missions. The VDF’s senior logistics warrant officer supported the Joint Logistics Directorate, and VDF distribution teams safely traveled nearly 1,500 miles delivering supplies and equipment to units staging at VNG armories.

Williams said he was also impressed by the new logistics staffing and distribution assistance provided by the VDF.

“We are so fortunate to have so much talent and experience in the VDF, and I am always impressed to see how they quickly adapt to provide additional capabilities we need,” Williams said. “We have already come to rely on them for support in our Joint Operations Center and in our Emergency Support Function 16 coordination cell at the Virginia Emergency Operations Center, and now they are making a big impact assisting with our logistics support. They are an integral part of the VNG team, and we appreciate what a great force multiplier they are in every domestic response.”

Williams said it was also important to remember the important support VNG and VDF troops receive from their loved ones and employers.

“When the commonwealth calls, our VNG and VDF troops leaves their homes and jobs to be there to assist their fellow Virginians, and that isn’t always an easy thing to do,” he said. “I can’t thank our families and employers enough for their continued steadfast support that is so critical to our mission success.”

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