FORT PICKETT, Va. — Members of the Virginia Defense Force conducted training and evaluation on multiple communications systems Sept. 24, 2016, at Fort Pickett, Virginia, to ensure they are ready to provide support to the Virginia National Guard during domestic operations. VDF troops organized into response teams provide capabilities like high frequency radio, Statewide Agencies Radio System, incident management assistance and operation of Mobile Communications Platform trailers, and all of those capabilities were evaluated.
“We provided very clear criteria for the standards our teams needed to meet, they went out in the morning to train, we brought them in for a hotwash, then sent them out again and they met those standards,” said Brig. Gen. (Va.) Justin Carlitti, commander of the VDF. “Their performance today proves to me, my staff and their commanders that if we get the call, we are ready to go.”
The Virginia Department of Military Affairs is the state agency that manages the Virginia Army National Guard, Virginia Air National Guard and Virginia Defense Force, In state response operations, the VDF operates side-by-side with the Army Guard and Air National Guard as part of a multi-agency state response team to provide important additional capabilities to help the Guard assist citizens in their time of need, Carlitti explained.
“We are a force multiplier for DMA and provide them with additional capabilities,” he said. “The VDF continues to enhance our professionalism as a force, and we are a very robust organization and only getting healthier.”
The training weekend is the second of three phases leading to a large-scale collective training exercise in November when the VDF will conduct “Forward Guardian” with all the units in the state operating at their home stations. The exercise is also expected to include other nearby state defense force organizations.
“The objective this weekend was to evaluate the teams and assess their readiness and ability to deploy, set up their equipment and operate,” said Col. (Va.) Stewart Bentley, operations officer for the VDF. “From my perspective, I think our personnel showed they were confident, and they showed that they could operate in different and austere environments like they will face in the real world. This shows their ability to innovate on the ground and be flexible given their circumstances.”
Soldiers from the Virginia National Guard’s joint communications section provided training on the updated versions of the Tactical Communication Packages used for internet connectivity to operate web-based communications.
The Virginia Defense Force is Virginia’s all-volunteer reserve force authorized by the Code of Virginia and reporting to the Adjutant General of Virginia. Members of the VDF volunteer their time for training and community support and are only paid when called to state active duty by an authorization from the Governor of Virginia.
The VDF is organized into four regiments: 1st Regiment based in Richmond and covering the Petersburg and Hampton Roads area, 2nd Regiment based in Manassas and covering the Northern Virginia area, 3rd Regiment based in Winchester and running through the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia area and 4th Regiment based in Lynchburg and covering through Roanoke into Southwest Virginia.
VDF members bring a wide variety of public safety, military and civilian skills to mission sets including access control, interoperable communications support, operations center augmentation, resource management, operational planning, incident management assistance and public information.
In addition to their support to the Virginia National Guard, the VDF is actively engaged in supporting their local communities and have provided assistance to city and county law enforcement and emergency response organizations to help make sure large scale events run smoothly and safely.
In the last year, members of the VDF volunteered their time in their communities with activities like assisting with parking at the Virginia War Memorial during Veterans Day and Memorial Day, assisting law enforcement with access control at the Winchester Apple Blossom Festival and Lynchburg Air Show and providing a color guard for a festival in the Hampton Roads area.
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