VDF Communication Battalion conducts readiness exercise

Virginia Defense Force personnel
Virginia Defense Force personnel assigned to the Communication Battalion, Support Operations Group relay message traffic in a Mobile Communication Platform June 5, 2021, in Lynchburg, Virginia.

The Virginia Defense Force Communication Battalion, Support Operations Group conducted an operational readiness exercise June 5, 2021, at multiple locations across Virginia to validate unit readiness in the event of activation in support of civil authorities. The exercise tested the ability of VDF personnel to muster, prepare their equipment for deployment, conduct movement and engage multiple online and radio communications platforms. VDF personnel from the SOG’s Regional Liaison Detachment supported the exercise, as well as incident management assistance and access control teams from the VDF’s 1st Regiment.

The ORE is an annual readiness exercise to test the responsiveness, deployability and resilience of Communication Battalion Mobile Communication Platform equipment and crews to move from home stations to sites across the commonwealth, explained Lt. Col. Nicholas Christoff, commander of the SOG.

“The exercise went extremely well, we were able to make communication across the commonwealth and demonstrated the ability to provide support to the Virginia National Guard or other state or local organization if requested,” Christoff said.

Early Saturday morning, VDF personnel arrived at VNG readiness centers in Lynchburg, Richmond and Warrenton to prepare four MCPs for movement and operations. Once they moved to their operational locations, access control teams from 1st Regiment provided security and incident management assistance teams exchanged message traffic with the MCPs. Members of the RL Detachment were also integrated into exercise message traffic.

In addition to sending and receiving radio message traffic, VDF personnel also confirmed the capability to send and received email traffic with VDF senior leaders.

The VDF MCP is a 7 1/2 feet by 16 feet trailer equipped with multiple radio systems for voice and data communications, and it also features a map board and work space so it can function as a mobile command post. Using an MCP, members of the VDF are able to communicate across a variety of radio spectrums with emergency response and public safety organizations as well as amateur radio operators.

The RL Detachment is headquartered at Lynchburg and has the mission to provide experienced, reliable and professional personnel in various roles to all seven of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management’s regions.  Acting as an interface between VNG liaison officers and regional partners, RL Detachment personnel lend continuity and expertise balancing regional resource requests with VNG ability to provide support during emergencies and disasters. They can fill any number of key roles such as leadership support to VNG operations staff and operations leaders, branch directors and situation unit leaders to the Commonwealth of Virginia Incident Management Team.

During domestic operations, the VNG and VDF receive requests for mission support from the Va. Department of Emergency Management and respond as part of a multi-agency team with other state and local agencies to provide support capabilities to communities in need.

The VDF is authorized by Title 44 of the Code of Virginia as the all-volunteer reserve of the Virginia National Guard, and they are a force multiplier and integrated into all VNG domestic response operations. Members of the VDF volunteer their time for training and are only paid when called to state active duty by an authorization from the Governor of Virginia. The VDF reports to the Adjutant General of Virginia as part of the Virginia Department of Military Affairs along with the Virginia Army National Guard and Virginia Air National Guard.