LYNCHBURG, Va. — Members of the Virginia Defense Force tested multiple communications systems and response capabilities Nov. 5, 2016, in Lynchburg, Virginia, during Forward Guardian 2017, a multi-state, multi-agency communication exercise. VDF troops deployed to locations across the state to operate multiple systems and response capabilities including high frequency radio, Statewide Agencies Radio System, incident management assistance and operation of Mobile Communications Platform trailers.
“This annual exercise allowed the staff and line elements of the VDF to plan and execute a scenario-driven, multi-dimensional exercise,” said Brig. Gen. Justin P. Carlitti, commander of the VDF. “It culminates our annual training and exercise year in a fashion that showcases to our participating state and local officials a range of command, control and communication capabilities.”
The exercise simulated the VDF’s ability to provide vital communications support during a natural disaster impacted traditional systems. The VDF is Virginia’s all-volunteer reserve force authorized by the Code of Virginia and integrated into all Virginia National Guard domestic operations. They are a force multiplier providing additional capabilities to assist with the Guard’s mission of keeping the citizens of commonwealth safe during times of need.
VDF troops from the Lynchburg-based 4th Regiment deployed their MCPs to Lynchburg, Pulaski and Cedar Bluff, set up HF radio systems at those locations and also exercise their incident management assistance teams in Lynchburg and Pulaski. They were able to make contact with elements in New York, Tennessee, Indiana and South Carolina, and they were able to send emails via HF.
In Virginia Beach, VDF troops used HF radio systems to contact other VDF regiments and multiple states, and they also conducted training with Virginia National Guard Soldiers at Camp Pendleton.
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.