The Military Police companies of North Carolina's 210th unit of the Army National Guard, which is housed in Macon County, was recently placed “on alert” for possible deployment. According to Capt. Rick Scoggins, spokesperson for North Carolina's National Guard (NCNG), the guard uses the “on alert” status as a way to forewarn companies and their families that they may be needed for a mission or deployment. The 211th unit based in Haywood County was also put “on alert” the same time as Macon County's unit.
“Units can be ‘alerted’ based upon their unit/individual readiness based upon criteria and requirements set by the Army and the National Guard Bureau,” explained Scoggins. “The process is ‘alert, mobilization, deployment.’ When a unit is alerted, they begin preparing for a mobilization (based upon the mission) by evaluating unit strength, training and equipment needs and making arrangements to ensure any additional training needed for individual soldiers (based upon mission requirements) and additional equipment requirements are made.”
According to Scoggins, when a unit is classified as “on alert,” they are being evaluated and considered for an upcoming mission. “Just because a unit has been alerted, it does not mean they will deploy,” said Scoggins. “There have been instances where a unit has been alerted and many months later, the order is revoked and the unit stands down.”
Scoggins explained that National Guard units can be placed on alert when they meet specific criteria based on personnel strength, skills/capabilities and mission requirements when determining if they would be the best option for a proposed mission.
“Units can be placed on alert to deploy overseas or to react to domestic situations like flooding, hurricane disaster support or any number of missions that can utilize North Carolina National Guard assets,” said Scoggins. “Nearly 12,000 soldiers and airmen live in all 100 counties of our state which makes them responsive to the needs of our communities. Based upon these requirements units are placed on alert regularly and may not often be reported due to the fact that an alert is simply ordering the unit to ‘stand by’ for further instructions.”
Throughout the state, there are seven major subordinate commands (MSC) in the force that represent both the Army and Air National Guard. According to Scoggins, each MSC has three to four sub units that fall under that MSC and each sub unit has three to four additional units that serve under them. “All together, both Army and Air, there are nearly 80 units in the North Carolina National Guard,” he said. “As of right now, eight units have been alerted. The nature of the missions and the actual units alerted other than the one identified in this piece cannot be released due to operational security reasons.”
More than 110 personnel serve in the 210th MPs. Due to the fact that National Guard members live in all 100 counties of our state, of those 110 members, it is uncertain how many are actually Macon County residents.
“Soldiers/airmen of our units can come from anywhere in the state and some even live in other states and commute to North Carolina for drill weekends,” said Scoggins.
County Commissioner Ronnie Beale commended the men and women of the 210th and their willingness to serve the United States. “The members of the 210th are our friends and neighbors from here in Macon County and the surrounding areas and we appreciate their willingness to spring to action and for all they do to serve and protect us,” said Beale. “The county not only supports the members of the 210th and will keep them in our thoughts and prayers if they do become mobile, but we want their families to know that we are here to help them in anyway that we can as well.”
Beale said one way the county would work to aid the 210th in the event of possible deployment, is to make sure that support is given to their families. “In the event that the 210th does get the call for action, I am sure the local government and the local veteran organizations will step up to not only to fully support the unit while they are away, but to ensure that any and all necessary help is made available for the families they have to leave to serve our country,” he said.
Different units of the NCNG can be used not only for necessary combat functions overseas, but also a huge force multiplier for domestic and state disaster assistance. The National Guard is a unique organization because of their ability to serve both the Governor of North Carolina and the President of the United States.
“We can be deployed to assist state/federal agencies locally or nationwide or perform our primary military functions in a combat environment,” said Scoggins. “The NCNG has a wide range of functional capabilities from combat/ construction engineers and communications experts to logistical specialists. Logistics units help set up critical supply warehouses and transportation assets for delivery of resources for disaster relief. Engineers, communication and maintenance units provide civil infrastructure support like power and telecommunications resources to areas hit hard by natural disasters. In addition, our Army and Air aviation can be used to fight forest fires and participate in rescue operations for those stranded in flooded or impassible areas. Our warfighting units like infantry, armor and field artillery can also provide these same support functions, but can also work with law enforcement agencies to assist in providing security when needed.”
The North Carolina National Guard is first and foremost a dynamic organization capable of providing a wide variety of support from domestic operations to warfighting overseas. It is their duty as an organization to always be ready when called upon by the governor or the president to plan for or react to natural disasters, state/federal emergencies or military needs abroad. The skills, capabilities and technologies the NCNG possesses make the organization the best military bargain for both the state and nation.