Army National Guard Works to Secure the Homeland
Joining the Army National Guard appealed to Specialist (SPC) Alan Wainright because he could stay close to where he grew up in North Carolina, and not move from place to place every few years like full-time military service members do.
The National Guard is unique in that 84 percent of its members serve in a part-time status close to where they live, and because this branch of the military fulfills a dual mission of serving the country and serving the community. A governor or the president can call up the Guard at a moment’s notice to help with homeland emergencies.
While SPC Wainright has not deployed overseas in his five years with the Guard, he is fresh off two back-to-back stateside missions in North Carolina this fall, working riot control in Charlotte in late September, and then helping out during Hurricane Matthew and the residual flooding it caused further inland earlier this month.
SPC Wainright, like all Guard members, goes where he is called, but because of his training in security and law enforcement as a 31B- Military Policeman, his role during the flooding was less about rescuing stranded residents, providing them with necessities like food and water, or storm cleanup.
“Our mission up there was more to protect buildings from looting. We did help out fire and rescue because we had thermals and night vision, but that wasn’t our main mission.”
Looting turned out not to be a problem in the Lumberton, N.C., area during the flooding. That was also the case when SPC Wainright was called up to help with riot control in Charlotte for about a week. By that time, local police had back-up from state police and the Guard.
“It’s amazing when you’ve got a lot more eyes and hands on deck, stuff like [looting] doesn’t go down.”
Demonstrators in Charlotte were protesting the death of Keith Lamont Scott, an African American man who was shot by a city policeman. Police said Scott was armed with a gun and did not comply with their orders. Scott’s family said he was unarmed.
SPC Wainright said most of the resentment protestors expressed was directed at local law enforcement rather than Guard Soldiers.
“They were mostly friendly,” he says. “You had a few that got a little mouthy and wanted to talk junk, but for the most part they respected us and left us alone.”
Some of the other Guard work SPC Wainright has done in his home State is to provide traffic control for races and security when the Democratic National Convention came to Charlotte in 2012.
Unlike most of his fellow Soldiers, SPC Wainright works full-time for the Guard. He is part of a mobile recruiting team out of Raleigh, N.C. That means he gets lot of questions about joining the Guard and what he likes best about it, which is:
“The benefits and also just traveling. I’ve seen a lot of different States and a lot of different things that I wouldn’t have seen if I wasn’t with them.”