RICHMOND, Va. – The Virginia National Guard Joint Staff completed a virtual hurricane tabletop exercise to improve the VNG’s ability to respond to hazardous weather events in a COVID-19 environment rapidly. More than 50 Soldiers, Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force took part in the Aug. 17 exercise.“The Virginia National Guard must remain ready and responsive even in a COVID environment where much of our team is having to apply military art and science in a distributive environment,” explained Brig. Gen. James W. Ring, director of VNG joint staff.The notional “Hurricane Troy” was identified as a major hurricane located in the Atlantic Ocean and forecast to gain significant strength over the next four to five days before making landfall near Hampton Roads. All response missions were expected to adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 guidelines.Joint staff identified what needed to be completed with anticipated landfall of the hurricane 96, 72, 48 and 24 hours out. Staff sections took turns briefing. The exercise was conducted on a remote work environment allowing for chat, video and document collaboration.Ring said the tabletop exercise improved the proficiency of the joint staff. It also served as an opportunity to become familiar with various tools used for planning and execution in a real hurricane. Members also assessed standard operating procedures in their sections to ensure they are valid in the current environment.The exercise was conducted less than two weeks after Virginia National Guard Soldiers responded to Tropical Storm Isaias, using chainsaws to help clear roads of fallen trees and debris and keep traffic moving.“Whether we are mobilizing 40 Soldiers on the Eastern Shore for possible impacts from a tropical storm, assisting with Virginia’s COVID-19 response or staging 1,500 Soldiers across the commonwealth like we did for Hurricane Florence, the Virginia National Guard continues to demonstrate it can rapidly respond with the assistance requested by Virginia localities,” Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the adjutant general of Virginia, said after Soldiers were staged for Tropical Storm Isaias.For more National Guard newsNational Guard FacebookNational Guard Twitter