President Donald Trump did not “activate” the National Guard in Washington state on Sunday; his announcement related to the Guard only concerned federal funding, which he approved for Guard actions in Washington, California and New York.
There are no ordered or ongoing National Guard missions related to the coronavirus in Washington, state Military Department spokeswoman Karina Shagren said Monday. Confusion stemmed from Trump’s use of the phrase “it’s been activated,” while referring to federal funding, she said.
“When the president uses words like ‘activating,’ people get the idea we’re sending the troops out, that we’ll be in your community,” Shagren said.
The only thing that has changed is Trump’s authorization of federal funding. The Guard has been available for deployment in Washington since last month when Gov. Jay Inslee declared a statewide emergency.
But that doesn’t mean Trump’s announcement Sunday is inconsequential. Knowing that the federal government rather than the state will supply funding should the Guard be deployed here is good news, Shagren said.
“That’s a big win for us,” she said. “We’re happy with it.”
Some National Guard members who were in Yakima on a pre-scheduled drill earlier this month did help unload equipment for an emergency medical center, which has not yet been established. The equipment remains in a warehouse on the grounds of the Army’s Yakima Training Center, according to Yakima Valley Office of Emergency Management operations manager Horace Ward. That’s because the center, a Federal Medical Station made available via a department of Health and Human Services program, has not been officially requested yet, Shagren said.
There are no National Guard missions ordered right now in Washington. The National Guard does not conduct missions except when requested, she said. That could happen as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, she said.
“It could be food delivery, or to establish traffic control, or meet transportation needs,” Shagren said. “There’s a wide array.”