COLUMBUS, Ohio – Nearly 400 members of the Ohio National Guard, go to work each day packaging, transporting and distributing food and other essential items to the state's most vulnerable populations. A logistics readiness officer assigned to the 178th Wing monitors the situation to ensure the Guard members are safe.
As a member of Joint Task Force 37 (JTF-37), 1st Lt. Justin Rainier is supporting Operation Steady Resolve as an intelligence officer.
He said his job is to gather intelligence information for the various commanders to pass onto the Soldiers and Airmen working at the food banks. Some of the information he collects includes threats against the Guard members, severe weather and road conditions that might impact food distribution routes.
"If you have flooding or road closures in some of the more rural parts of the state, there might only be one road in or out," Rainier said. "If civilians can't get to the food bank because of flooding, we have equipment that can ford through water and get that food where it's needed."
He said he's also tracking how COVID-19 is spreading throughout the state to help guide decisions on how to keep Guard members healthy best while performing their missions.
"This is something fairly unprecedented," Rainier said. "We've done all this before, but the difference here is the scale and the duration, and we're just getting started."
"The unique skills he's (Rainier) brought to this team have been a huge asset for this mission," said Lt. Col. Mike Draper, chief of staff for Joint Task Force 37 (JTF-37).
While he isn't an intelligence officer by trade, Rainier said there is some overlap between his role as a logistics officer and his new temporary position as an intelligence officer. Both roles require him to determine how to allocate resources best to complete the mission, which is the overarching mission of JTF-37.
"I'm getting a crash course in just a sliver of what they (intelligence officers) do every day," Rainier said. "This is a new realm for me, but we as Guardsmen are flexible by nature because we never know what the mission is going to be and it can always change at the drop of a hat."
Maj. Nick Palmer, operations officer for JTF-37, said: "I've been impressed by him since he walked in the door. He received little to no guidance and he jumped right in, briefing terrain and weather affect to the boss."
Rainier said the Guard must step in and help ensure that people's basic needs are met to help keep the community safe and healthy.
"We're serving a greater purpose," Rainier said. "Everything we're doing is to try and save lives."