By Air Force Tech. Sgt. John Orrell of National Guard Bureau
WASHINGTON, Feb. 2, 2011 - In response to blizzard conditions and strong winter storms across a third of the country, six governors have declared states of emergency and about 1,100 National Guard members from 11 states have been activated or are on standby, National Guard Bureau officials said.
Meanwhile, Guard members in Indiana, Kansas, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania were on standby, officials said.
A day after Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency, the Missouri National Guard called up more than 600 soldiers and airmen to conduct emergency missions throughout the state. The Missouri Guard members will be spread over three task forces, Army Maj. Gen. Stephen L. Danner, adjutant general, said.
"Our force is seasoned by dozens of overseas deployments and 18 state emergency missions since 2005," Danner said. "Our citizen-soldiers and airmen are ready to protect their fellow Missourians in their time of need, whether they are conducting door-to-door safety visits or clearing critical paths for emergency vehicles so first responders can do their jobs."
Soldiers and airmen with Task Force East, based in St. Louis; Task Force Northwest, based in Kansas City; and Task Force Southwest, based in Springfield, are making door-to-door safety visits, providing critical infrastructure power generation, helping stranded motorists, conducting presence patrols and clearing emergency routes to support first responders. The Missouri Guard also has sent liaison officers to emergency operation centers.
Meanwhile, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has activated more than 500 Illinois National Guard members to help stranded motorists. They will be stationed at rest areas along Interstate 70 and other highways and will coordinate with the Illinois State Police to ensure the safety of travelers stranded along the roads.
"We must do everything we can to keep motorists safe during this massive winter storm," Quinn said. "Illinois Department of Transportation crews are working nonstop to clear roadways, and the Illinois State Police will also be closely monitoring our highways. These troops from the Illinois National Guard will help ensure public safety along the roadways, and I urge everyone to exercise caution when traveling."
Guard members stationed along the highways will provide water, snack bars and roadside safety tips to stranded motorists and will relay information regarding road conditions, vehicle accidents and stranded motorists to state police officers.
"I'm proud that the Illinois National Guard is able to play our part in responding to this winter storm," said Army Maj. Gen. William L. Enyart, Illinois adjutant general. "Our soldiers and airmen respond to the governor's call to help in state emergencies, just as we answer the president's call to serve overseas. It takes selfless citizens to serve in today's National Guard –- whether in Illinois or across the world."
In Arkansas, the National Guard has about five Guard members transporting supplies from Little Rock to the Washington County emergency management facility in Fayetteville in preparation for any needed assistance.
The Indiana National Guard had not yet been activated last night, but about 875 Guard members were on standby. About 30 members of the Iowa National Guard are helping stranded motorists.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback declared a state of emergency, which activates the disaster response and recovery portions of the Kansas Response Plan, which authorizes state resources and funds to expedite emergency assistance statewide, including the National Guard.
In Oklahoma, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is using the Will Rogers Air National Guard Base in Oklahoma City for equipment staging, but no National Guard personnel are anticipated to be used to support this FEMA mission assignment, officials said.
The Texas National Guard has about 30 Guard members assisting stranded motorists in Wichita Falls and Lubbock.
With Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker declaring a state of emergency, Air Force Brig. Gen. Don Dunbar, the state's adjutant general, can activate elements of the Wisconsin National Guard to active duty to assist local authorities if needed. The declaration also directs all state agencies to assist in any response or recovery efforts.
New Jersey and Pennsylvania have Guard members on standby, but no mission requirements had arisen as of last night.
National Guard Bureau
Wednesday, February 02, 2011
By Army Staff Sgt. Mark Burrell of Task Force Bastogne
KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan, Feb. 1, 2011 - The soldier's ink-stained, dirt-caked hands grasped his body armor and helmet as he prepared to depart the dimly lit plywood building on top of Observation Post Mustang.
For the last nine months in eastern Afghanistan, pulling guard duty has been Schlueter's job as a cavalry scout assigned to Troop C, 1st Squadron, 32nd Cavalry Regiment, Task Force Bandit, of the 101st Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team.
"I do my job because it's my job, but my hobby is art," Schlueter said. "Taking a blank piece of paper and making something out of it is just a way of reminding me why I'm here and what's going on."
Since age 6 growing up in Okinawa, Japan, Schlueter employed art as a way to express himself. His mother bought him coloring books, but he wouldn't color in them. Instead, he'd trace the outlines.
While living at the top of Afghanistan, he has plenty of outlines to trace now.
"You've got all these mountains," he said. "Especially the clouds and everything that are here, it's crazy. Where I'm from in Nebraska, it's all flat. I mean, you get to see clouds and stuff, but not like it 'is here.' It's ... it's ... it's ridiculous."
Schlueter, from Bellevue, Neb., draws anything - mountains, people, animals, surrealistic landscapes, or whatever his buddies ask of him.
"When people see something they want me to draw and get something off their mind, that's usually when I come into play," Schlueter said. "They say, 'Hey Schlueter, draw this,' and it gives them a laugh."
Since following his older cousin and sister into the Army, he has put his talents to use at some odd times.
"I was in basic training, and the night before you get out -- when everybody's cleaning and everything -- I got told to paint the barracks - all three floors," Schlueter said. "I painted everything. And then I painted the squadron rock, which the squadron sergeant major gave me a coin for, because he was really impressed with it."
In the tactical operations center at Observation Post Mustang, Schlueter has been working on another piece of art. For the past few days, he has been hunkered close to a large eagle he's drawing around his unit's crest. Past unit emblems adorn the walls, providing a respite from the utilitarian maps, charts and wires.
"It's nice to work on a piece that's going to be around for a while," Schlueter said. His squadron's blue and red logo covers nearly half of a wall.
He added that soldiers' esprit de corps at their hilltop living quarters may benefit from his efforts to bring a little more color to Army green.
"I've been told the reason why Wal-Mart's blue is because it helps people who are shopping be more relaxed. So yeah, I guess it makes people have better morale," he said with a laugh.
NATO International Security Assistance Force
By Air Force Tech. Sgt. John Orrell of National Guard Bureau
WASHINGTON, Feb. 1, 2011 - Four governors have declared states of emergency and one has mobilized his state's National Guard due to blizzard warnings and strong winter storms.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon mobilized about 600 Missouri National Guard members to support local authorities with emergency route clearance, door-to-door safety visits, generator assistance and stranded-motorist support, Missouri Guard officials said. The Missouri Guard also has sent liaison officers to emergency operation centers in affected cities and counties.
Army Maj. Gen. Stephen Danner, Missouri's adjutant general, said that the Missouri Guard has dealt with similar situations before, and that he feels confident Guard members will get the job done again.
"The leadership and soldiers and airmen of the Missouri National Guard are seasoned professionals," Danner said. "We will apply lessons learned from years of experience to help the citizens of Missouri."
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is using the Will Rogers Air National Guard Base in Oklahoma City, Okla., for equipment staging, but National Guard officials said they don't anticipate this FEMA mission assignment will require Guard support.
Missouri National Guard