More Than 700 National Guard Members To Work Food Supply Mission

Published: Monday, March 23, 2020 - 2:23pm
Updated: Monday, March 23, 2020 - 5:32pm
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The director of the state’s Department of Emergency and Military Affairs expects to have more than 700 Arizona National Guard members working to help supply grocery stores and food banks by Thursday.

KJZZ asked Maj. Gen. Michael McGuire when Arizonans can expect to find everything on their grocery shopping list.

“I’m neither a market retailer or a supplier. I’m trying to connect those two,” McGuire said.

He meant that the Guard’s job is to plug holes in the supply-chain and distribution network. Think truck companies that need help getting food to warehouses, or even grocery stores, where the National Guard can also help unload goods. 

“Ultimately this is a gap mission for us. We’re bridging until the retailers can hire the displaced casino workers, for example,” McGuire said.

McGuire said most of the Guard’s work will be at night, and he urged people to be patient at the grocery store.

A letter sent to the Defense Department secretary by Gov. Doug Ducey reportedly said the National Guard may be needed for other missions, like building a field hospital to treat people not infected by the coronavirus.

McGuire said the letter aimed to do two things: seek federal funding for National Guard missions to respond to the coronavirus, and keep the governor in command.

If a new mission requires something the Arizona National Guard doesn’t do, then a request would go to the Federal Emergency Management Agency seeking help from a unit like the Army Corps of Engineers.

“Then they come and they help expand a hospital facility or convert a facility into overflow capacity, like you’re seeing discussed in the media right now in New York,” he said.

Arizona has Guard members deployed overseas, backing up the Border Patrol, and on the food supply-chain mission. But McGuire still has a force of more than 6,000 people he can activate.  

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