Col. David Rhoads sitting on sofa with Afghan National Army Col.

Courtesy photo from a March 2017 meeting in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

Col. David Rhoads reflects on time as Joint Task Force Fox commander

Ohio Army National Guard Col. David Rhoads led the joint task force headquarters that provides management and oversight to all Ohio National Guard and State Defense Force COVID-19 support missions requested through the governor’s office. He reflected on his rotation as JTF Fox commander: “It (was) both an honor and a privilege to lead something as momentous as this. I’ve been able to work with people from all over, from all walks of life. What we’re doing is something worth doing, and I’m glad to have been able to help shape it.”

Story and video by Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Vega, Ohio National Guard Public Affairs

COLUMBUS, Ohio (03/04/21)

For the last 12 months, hundreds of Ohio National Guard members have been activated at the request of Gov. Mike DeWine to help combat COVID-19 and provide assistance to Ohioans in need. Along with civilian health care workers, the ONG has been on the front lines of the pandemic in the state. From packaging and delivering food at local food banks to supporting COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites, the ONG has worked with its governmental and community partners to stand united in one common goal: to be Ohioans supporting Ohioans.

Joint Task Force Fox, assembled to coordinate all ONG support in the fight against COVID-19, requires an immeasurable amount of logistical support and coordination. Combining both the Army and Air National Guard, as well as the State Defense Force — which includes the Ohio Military Reserve and Ohio Naval Militia — JTF Fox operates statewide with other state agencies to provide assistance wherever needed. Overseeing such a large operation, with thousands of participants, requires someone with strong character and effective leadership, and a few Ohio National Guard senior officers have served rotations leading the joint task force during the yearlong mission so far.

Col. David S. Rhoads served as task force commander for part of 2020, having been selected by the adjutant general as someone befitting the immense task. Commanding such a large and diverse task force is a massive responsibility, but Rhoads was more than qualified for the position.

“First and foremost, I grew up with this (the Army). It’s something my father always wanted me to do, but he never pushed me to do it,” Rhoads said. “Eventually, one day, he said to me, ‘I think this is the time for you to seriously consider the Army.’ And I didn’t say no.”

More than 30 years later, Rhoads is still serving his country. Before his time commanding JTF Fox, Rhoads had deployed twice, both to Afghanistan, in 2003 and again in 2017.

“For me, everything changed after my first deployment,” Rhoads said, reflecting on his time overseas. “It’s where you start to put all the theory, training and practice into reality.”

The vast array of skills obtained over a decorated career have been put to the test as Rhoads led not only the joint task force, but also the 147th Regiment (RTI) at Defense Supply Center Columbus. The RTI is responsible for providing necessary military schools and training to members of the Ohio Army National Guard, including officer candidate school and certain military occupational specialty schools. Balancing both was a challenge, but Rhoads said he was able to meet the demands of both roles.

“I love to be a part of a high-performing team,” Rhoads said. “To me, that’s what it’s all about, and that is what I have always strived to create.

“We have a team of professionals from communities throughout the state who come with a diverse set of skills to include medical and logistics. It is our privilege to be able to continue to serve the citizens of Ohio, and we are prepared to answer the call at a moment’s notice, should more assistance be needed.”

Following his time as JTF Fox commander, Rhoads transitioned his focus back to the 147th RTI, to continue providing critical training and leadership skills to members of the Ohio Army National Guard force. Rhoads said he was thankful and proud of his time as the joint task force commander.

“It (was) both an honor and a privilege to lead something as momentous as this,” he said. “I’ve been able to work with people from all over, from all walks of life. What we’re doing is something worth doing, and I’m glad to have been able to help shape it.”