- The 26th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, formerly the 51st Troop Command, temporarily relocated Monday after the weekend’s ice storm to the Combined Support Maintenance Shop in Devens from its headquarters in Camp Curtis Guild, Reading, in order to carry out its mission closer to the affected areas of the state.
The 26th MEB, after receiving information on the communities in need of support, identified units with the capability to perform the required tasks and assigned missions to those units.
“The biggest problem is unpredictability,” said Col. Paul G. Smith, commander of the 26th MEB. “What was first thought to be an immediate support response for victims turned into an ongoing recovery mission. The need for support actually increased as time went on.”
The total number of missions processed to support affected areas throughout the state through the 26th stood at 87 as of Monday, with 30 active missions and the other missions either completed or canceled, according to Lt. Col. Mark Schulze, operations officer for the 26th. The nature of the missions included tasks such as clearing debris from roads and yards, establishing shelters with cots and generators, delivering food, providing security and delivering fuel to power the generators. A dozen teams from the 101st Engineer Battalion deployed with chainsaws to clear debris, said Schulze.
In addition to clearing the roads, the National Guard visited residents door-to-door to ensure their safety and well-being of and often recommend that residents relocate to local shelters. Local police providing security at the shelters are planned to be replaced by military police officers from the Guard as the week went on, according to Smith.
Local communities have welcomed the National Guard’s presence; those who had power offered hot meals to Soldiers in appreciation for their efforts during the recovery.
“This mission brings us back to our traditional role, to support the people. This is our roots,” said Schulze.