• >
  • The Role of The Air National Guard When Natural Disasters Strike

The Role of The Air National Guard When Natural Disasters Strike

When a natural disaster strikes, it’s hard to ever fully be prepared for what’s to come. But it certainly helps to know that the survival specialists of the Air National Guard are always quick to respond and assist the affected communities.

When a state of emergency is declared, it’s because the Governor believes the disaster that has occurred or is imminent is severe enough to require State aid to increase local resources to prevent and alleviate damage, suffering, and hardship for the local communities. That’s where the National Guard comes in.


Vital Resources

These vital, supplementary resources include transportation, communications, public works and engineering, emergency management, mass care, public health, search, hazardous materials management and more. While each state has their own emergency operations plans and National Guard in place for when a natural disaster occurs, there is always the possibility of a need for more personnel and equipment, or the urgency of the situation overwhelms the conventional measures of a smaller scale emergency.

The Air National Guard has an exceptionally unique role in aiding the prevention and recovery of a natural disaster. Composed of citizen soldiers who serve on a part-time basis, these specially trained flyers provide the ultimate mobility of personnel and equipment through the air. When other means of transportation are limited or unable to move through difficult terrains, mobility by aircraft is the solution.


When a natural disaster occurs, some of these missions include:


  • Air Mobility– this mission allows for the rapid movement of personnel and cargo anywhere in the world with the ability to sustain that force for as long as needed. It also includes tactical airdrop of supplies and the transport of victims who are injured or stranded.


  • Airborne Firefighting– in support of the Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, these services can provide up to 3,000 lbs. of retardant in less than five seconds, fly back to home base and be refilled and airborne again within 20 min.


  • Special Operations– the unique abilities of these aircrafts enable airmen to support humanitarian efforts during a natural disaster in the US and all over the world through tactical airdrops, information operations and broadcasts.


  • Search and Rescue– aircrafts are used to deploy members to assist in helping find and rescue various victims whose lives are in danger during severe weather, wildfire and more.


  • Pararescue– these elite members of the special ops team are highly trained swimmers, masters of evasion techniques and exceptional land navigators, helping to treat injuries and rescue trapped or stranded individuals.


From Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Irma, the Joplin, MO tornado, the Haiti Earthquake and many others, The Air National Guard was one of the first on the scene to provide essential resources and aid to minimize the devastation of these disasters.  And now, through a new network communications tool suite, first responders have interoperable communication between the military and other agencies even when local infrastructure has been destroyed. With timing as the most crucial aspect during a state of emergency, communication can be the difference in saving time and saving lives.

The National Guard also devotes their time to helping members of the community understand the do’s and don’ts for any type of disaster through hundreds of Citizen Preparedness Corps presentations at Senior Centers and local organizations. The survival specialists teach individuals how to have the tools and resources to prepare and quickly recover from both natural and human-made disasters, such as building individualized “Go Kits,” as well as training for the emotional aspects of a disaster.

The sky is not the limit for the Air National Guard. To learn more about their unique services and missions during natural disasters and more, check out their website.


Biek, K. (2017, September 11). What Role Does The National Guard Play In Natural Disasters? Retrieved September 14, 2018, from https://www.newsy.com/stories/what-s-the-national-guard-doing-during-hurricane-irma/

Homepage. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://goang.com/

Walker, A. (2017, June 12). Army National Guard provides critical link in disaster communication t. Retrieved September 14, 2018, from http://www.nationalguard.mil/News/Article/1209816/army-national-guard-provides-critical-link-in-disaster-response-communication-t/