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AZ National Guard in the battle against COVID

Merging military and civilian abilities
Posted at 8:06 PM, Feb 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-05 22:06:14-05

PHOENIX, Ariz. (KGUN) — Arizona’s battle against COVID 19 has called to duty some of your neighbors who train for real wartime battles but have to adapt to help cope with crises at home.

Soldiers and Airmen need to be ready for anything. When they’re in the National Guard they need to be ready to work flexibly and fast to tackle the problems in our civilian lives.

“We consistently say we're a proven choice for the war fight, but we're the first choice to pivot to response here in our home states.”

Major General Michael McGuire is the ranking military leader for the Arizona National Guard. As Governor, Doug Ducey is the Arizona Guard’s Commander in Chief.

Most Guardsmen live and work as civilians until they’re called to duty. And the challenge of COVID has put about 11 hundred of them to work.

Supplying troops makes the military masters at moving people and things.

General McGuire says, “We move entire armies to the other side of the globe fairly efficiently, lots of equipment, lots of pieces parts, lots of sustainment, lots of food, lots of water, lots of medical supplies.”

So when grocery shelves cleared out, Guardsmen used their skills and military trucks to refill warehouses, and distribute food at food banks.

Sometimes Guardsmen apply know-how from their civilian jobs to tasks like organizing vaccination sites.

General McGuire says, “ For those that have construction skills, logistic skills, maybe some retail skills. A lot of what we're doing with vaccine is just making sure that, from the time we mix it within six hours we get it all distributed so it's much like running a hot food restaurant that you want to make everything run on time so there's a lot of skills that we can realize as we run that.”

In some cases disruption from COVID threw Guardsmen out of their civilian jobs.

“So it's been a great gap filler for our neighbors that are at our workplaces, our schools, our churches and the rest, to be able to be called to duty in their citizen soldier and citizen airman capacity in all 15 counties.”

And the General says Guardsmen are in Pima County helping with vaccinations now and he expects that involvement to grow.