The nation watched as the National Guard, the Coast Guard and Reserve units were called up to support Texas and Florida during 2017’s nasty spate of hurricanes. Many times we have seen the National Guard brought in to manage the crisis during disasters. Americans have come to expect them as an integral part of any emergency response.
Most recently, the guard has been called in by the Governor of West Virginia to Huntington, to help tackle the opioid crisis — which the governor has described as a disaster in its own right.
Huntington has been called the overdose capital of America, citing double the national average of overdoses, due in part to a decline of the coal industry, a high jobless rate and the easy availability of the drugs—law enforcement is stretched painfully thin.
The Chief of Police for the town of Huntington said “I don’t think there is a police department in America that has all the resources they need. It is a complex problem and it needed a complex solution.”
The guard’s primary role against the opioid crisis is to provide analytical and technical support. It will also fly Lakota helicopters on reconnaissance missions in coordination with local law enforcement —providing extra eyes in the sky while serving warrants or during drug busts. Guardsman will be manning hotlines and running analytical support to investigations for the Huntington Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Bureau—allowing local cops to focus on working the streets while guardsman help track down drug networks.
This past Wednesday, the National Guard stationed in Huntington helped with a bust of a dealer that recovered 430 grams of fentanyl, far more powerful than heroin, with a street value of $86,000.
Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, The West Virginia National Guard commander, remarked “We are solving a problem in our country…and at the same time, making sure we have the highest level of readiness to respond to something else that may be out there, somewhere else in the world.”
Officials say the guard could be deployed in West Virginia for years to come– funded by the state – as long as cops say they need help. And West Virginia may only be the first.
What say you SOFREP? Is this a good mission for the National Guard? Sound off in the comments.