CENTRAL POINT, Ore. – The goal was straightforward – deliver free COVID-19 vaccines to the people of southern Oregon. There were already vaccination clinics across the state, but what made the Jackson County Vaccination Equity Project unique was the assigning of the Oregon National Guard’s first dual status commander.
U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Mark Crosby, the assistant adjutant general for air for the Oregon National Guard, was the Joint Task Force Oregon dual status commander.
“To best work with our civilian partners, we established Oregon’s first dual status commander that puts all military resources under one command, working jointly with our federal friends and county leaders,” said Crosby. “This makes it easy for the county to come to one point of contact and best serve the people of southern Oregon.”
Crosby was in command of approximately 120 people from all branches of the Armed Forces: Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard, including Active-Duty, National Guard, and Reserve forces. Navy and Marine medical professionals provided the vaccinations, with support functions from Army and Air Force personnel. The Coast Guard supplied the incident management team to work with Jackson County Emergency Management.
A DSC is usually appointed when Department of Defense personnel of multiple statuses, Active Duty (Federal) and Guard (state), are assigned to the same stateside mission. The DSC has a unique chain of command, reporting up through both U.S. Northern Command (federal) and the adjutant general (state), and having authority for all DOD personnel, no matter their status.
Crosby is uniquely qualified, having attended Joint Task Force Commander training and receiving Dual Status Commander Certification. As the assistant adjutant general for air, he is responsible for leading, organizing, training, equipping and deploying Oregon Air National Guard forces when activated to support state and federal missions.
“The people of southern Oregon have been through a lot this last year,” said Crosby. “When Jackson County asked for help, the federal government and state of Oregon sent help.”
Jackson County Public Health had already set up a COVID vaccination clinic at the Jackson County Expo, but county officials wanted to extend vaccination efforts to underserved and marginalized populations. They requested assistance, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Department of Defense stepped in to help.
“This FEMA vaccination center is different than other FEMA centers; this vaccination center is county lead and supported by the federal government and the state of Oregon,” Crosby said.
Over two months, the Jackson County Vaccination Equity Project provided 26,925 vaccinations.
Crosby attributed the success of the mission to “the willingness of everyone (county, state, federal, contractors and DOD) to work together to achieve the mission – making vaccinations available to citizens of Jackson County and the surrounding area.”
His advice for future DSCs: “Stay true to the intent of why the DSC was created – consolidate all DOD resources under your command and speak with one voice to the civilian authorities and your Title 10 and Title 32 chains of command.”