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VING Gets Help With Prep Drills From Michigan National Guard

FREDERIKSTED — “When the Weather Channel becomes our favorite channel on TV, it comforts us to know it is now also the favorite channel of the Michigan National Guard, who has shown a commitment for assistance when the next big storm threatens our islands,” said Brig. Gen. Deborah Howell, Virgin Islands National Guard Adjutant General.

In the early hours of Thursday morning, December 13, Caribbean Thunder, an Emergency Deployment Readiness Exercise (EDRE) was initiated to validate the capability of the Michigan National Guard to notify, marshal and deploy a ready force of Michigan National Guard Soldiers to the Virgin Islands to provide support to Virgin Islands National Guard and U.S. Virgin Islands civil authorities using a realistic scenario in a live and constructive training environment.

After notification, elements of the Michigan National Guard 177th Military Police Brigade, who comprise the MING Quick Reaction Force (QRF), will assemble at the Taylor, Michigan, armory to receive initial mission briefings and gather gear — just as they would when alerted for an actual QRF activation. From Taylor, they will convoy to Selfridge Air National Guard Base where they will meet with two C-17 Globemaster aircrews from the Mississippi National Guard who are providing airlift for the Caribbean Thunder exercise. Together they will load equipment and personnel onto the aircraft for an early afternoon departure. 

Participants in the exercise included: Michigan National Guard Joint Staff, the Detroit-based 177th Military Police Brigade, 210 Military Police Battalion, 1775th Military Police Company, 1776th Military Police Company, the 156 Engineer Support Battalion; the 172nd Air Wing from the Mississippi National Guard; and Virgin Islands Joint Staff, Virgin Islands Port Authority, and the Virgin Islands Police Department. 

Following Hurricane Maria in the fall of 2017, the Michigan National Guard partnered with the Virgin Islands National Guard to improve the capabilities and performance of both organizations in response to infrastructure damage and human suffering in the wake of a natural disaster.

The Michigan timeline for movement to such an emergency is set at eight hours following notification of need.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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