National Guard Disaster Response Mission: What You Should Know

The National Guard has a critical role in assisting local authorities with disaster response efforts.  This could include natural events such as tornadoes, floods, tsunamis, hurricanes, snow storms, or any other local emergency.  The National Guard is not normally used as the primary response.  Instead, their role is to step up and assist the local authorities when they need help.  Typically, they are only called up when local authorities do not have the resources or manpower to do the mission.

Natural disasters happen quite frequently in the United States.  Look on any television channel and you will see coverage for some type of event (as mentioned above).  In just about every case, you will see “Citizen Soldiers” assisting the police, fire fighters and local authorities.

The National Guard works closely with local authorities, Northern Command, the National Guard Bureau, FEMA and other state and federal agencies.  When a disaster occurs the state governor can “activate” forces to help out.  The National Guard can perform a large variety of missions such as traffic control, snow removal, search and rescue, evacuation, debris removal, civil disturbance control, evacuation and much, much more.

Typically, the National Guard has significant manpower, equipment and resources that many local authorities do not have. This is what makes them so relevant and helpful.

During my time in the Maryland Army National Guard, my unit was activated several times to help out with big snow storms.  Our unit did snow removal, helped evacuate residents, provided food and water to citizens and much more.

Big snow storms seemed to be a frequent issue in Maryland.  In other states, units get activated for hurricanes, tornadoes and floods.  The “disaster” or “emergency” can vary significantly depending upon where you live.

I always enjoyed helping out my state.  That was one of my favorite things about serving in the National Guard.  I knew that if things went haywire locally, there was a good chance we would get activated to help out.  I can’t think of anything more fulfilling than helping out other state residents in a time of need.

The bottom line is that the National Guard is there when they are needed.  They do so many important things to support the disaster response efforts, working alongside the local authorities.  It’s really a win-win situation for the state’s residents, the local authorities and the National Guard units.

What are your thoughts about the National Guard Disaster Response Mission?  Leave a comment below to let me know what you think or to share a personal story.  I look forward to hearing from you.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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4 thoughts on “National Guard Disaster Response Mission: What You Should Know”

  1. The National Guard can be a gratifying and fulfilling experience, considering you can actually see the people you are helping. In the case of deployed soldiers, they are providing a huge sacrifice for their country, and their job is what keep the U.S. the great country that it is, but while deployed those soldiers don’t get to see the outcome of their efforts, which is a pity. In the National Guard, however, you can come face to face with the people you are assisting. You can see firsthand that you are benefiting your country and its people.

  2. Disaster Response is one of the most rewarding things the National Guard is involved with. As a resident of New Jersey I was part of the response to Hurricane Sandy that saw my local base become the base of operations for FEMA and the National Guard response. It's amazing how much relief and hope you can bring to someone to just see those uniforms heading into town.

    1. I agree. Quite perhaps my favorite experiences in the National Guard were helping out local families in times of needs, such as hurricanes, snowstorms, floods and other natural disasters.

  3. This has to be the number one thing that I love about the National Guard. They really are the ‘big guns’ when it comes to taking care of a domestic crisis. They have such a confident appearance and a calming presence. I think that the general perception is that they can handle anything. When you hear that the Guard has been called in to help take care of a situation, you suddenly realize that the situation is serious, but at the same time you also feel that it is finally going to be resolved. At least that is the perception here in the northeast.

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