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Alaska National Guard responds to COVID-19 threat

Alaska National Guard Soldiers and Airmen, Alaska State Defense Force Soldiers and Naval Militiamen assigned to a joint task force supported the Food Bank of Alaska by establishing an efficient food distribution area in Muldoon April 20, 2020.

Alaska National Guard Soldiers and Airmen, Alaska State Defense Force Soldiers and Naval Militiamen assigned to a joint task force supported the Food Bank of Alaska by establishing an efficient food distribution area in Muldoon April 20, 2020.

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska – The Alaska National Guard Joint Task Force-Logistics team is supporting three missions for the State Emergency Operations Center during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The team is in charge of sourcing and disseminating equipment and people internally to support entities within the Alaska National Guard, and externally to support community organizations that have asked for help.

The logistics team includes 31 people who were put on state active duty orders to assist with COVID-19 response efforts.

“What I do is look at the personnel we have to work with and try to maximize the efficiency of those individuals,” said Lt. Col. Richard Mohammadi, commander of the JTF-Logistics team.

One team is supporting the Food Bank of Alaska by providing traffic control to ensure efficient food distribution at a site in East Anchorage. Another team is screening people at entry control points at the Alaska National Guard armory to ensure health mandates are followed. A third team will support harbor operations in Kodiak beginning May 1.

“The food bank piece is going very well,” said Mohammadi. “We’ve got 20 people in support of that operation, and when they’re not working out there, we have them working with other tasks to maximize their time.”

Sgt. Anthony Pillittier, senior enlisted leader for the JTF-Logistics team, said they are “tracking vehicles with the Army Guard and Air Guard that are all mission-capable and can be used in quick time if need be.”

JTF-Logistics also transferred people to the public affairs team to ensure effective internal and external communications.

The task force has fulfilled four requests for assistance from the State Emergency Operations Center, including taking inventory, organizing and distributing supplies for the Department of Health and Social Services warehouse in Anchorage, providing cots to two communities for alternate homeless shelter sites, and helping ensure arriving airport passengers sign the governor’s declaration to self-quarantine.

“From the very beginning, we started looking into ‘what ifs’ and possibilities, and just making sure that we had our bases covered that way,” said Pillittier.

“This is a historic occasion, and I’ve got a great staff that works well and is able to respond and be flexible with the needs of the day,” said Mohammadi. “Overall, I think we are well-prepared, and as things come up, we will continue to handle them as efficiently as we have been so far.”

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