Virginia Defense Force 2022 Year in Review

The VDF is authorized by Title 44 of the Code of the Virginia as the all-volunteer reserve of the Virginia National Guard, and it serves as a force multiplier integrated into all Guard domestic operations. The VDF reports to the Adjutant General of Virginia as part of the Virginia Department of Military Affairs along with the Virginia Army and Air National Guard. 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.

More than 200 VNG and VDF personnel were on duty Jan. 15, 2022, in Richmond, Virginia, supporting the inauguration of Glenn Youngkin as the 74th Governor of Virginia.  VDF personnel volunteered their time to provide command and control for the inaugural parade and assisted with staging and marshaling the parade marching elements. 

Chief Warrant Officer 3 (Va.) Jon Ganues provides a mission brief to a Virginia Defense Force Logistics Distribution Team Jan. 17, 2022, at the Virginia National Guard Logistics Operations Center at Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia. 

When winter storms hit Virginia in January 2022, the VDF fielded new logistics support capabilities helping make sure VNG units would have all the equipment needed to be successful in their assigned missions. In preparation for winter storm response beginning the VNG J4 Joint Logistics Directorate requested distribution capabilities from the VDF to support VNG units staging at their home armories. During emergency response operations, units are routinely augmented with the appropriate additional supplies and equipment based on their expected mission type. The VDF distribution assets allowed the VaARNG units to focus on mission preparation with on hand equipment. With the assistance of the VDF, all needed equipment was on location with the units prior to the onset of the storm.

Members of the VDF’s 1st Regiment conducted the “Spring Winds 22” training exercise May 14, 2022, at multiple locations across Virginia to test their incident management assistance, access control and interoperable communication support capabilities. The exercise simulated a severe hurricane and how the VDF would support the VNG’s role as a member of the state multi-agency response team.

VDF personnel assigned to the Warrenton-based Echo Company, 11th Signal Battalion, 1st Regiment conducted training on the Joint Incident Site Communications Capability with the Virginia National Guard’s J6 Joint Communication Section June 4, 2022, at the VNG Headquarters at Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia. The JISCC provides an array of communications options including wireless and wired internet connectivity, radio connections for multiple frequencies, uplink to satellites, telephone service and many more communications capabilities. 

Members of the Virginia Defense Force’s 1st Regiment conduct the Spring Winds 22 training exercise May 14, 2022, in Fairfax, Virginia, to test their incident management assistance, access control and interoperable communications support capabilities.

Members of the VDF assigned to the Warrenton-based Echo Company, 11th Signal Battalion, 1st Regiment took part in the American Radio Relay League Field Day June 25, 2022, in Leesburg, Virginia. Operating as the Virginia Defense Force Radio Group, an ARRL-affiliated club, and hosted by Loudoun Amateur Radio Group, taking part in Field Day provided an opportunity for the VDF to continue to build on their existing radio skills and expand their relationships with amateur radio organizations.

VDF personnel conducted communications, security operations and classroom training August 5-7, 2022, at Fort Pickett, Virginia, during a Multi-day Unit Training Assembly. Personnel participated in security training focused on traffic control and communications training in the VDF’s Mobile Communication Platforms. Classroom training covered a variety of topics including operations center augmentation and first aid. It was the first time since March 2020 the VDF conducted a large scale in person multi-day training event.

The VNG staged Soldiers and Airmen with tactical trucks and chain saws at multiple locations across the state for possible severe weather response in early October 2022, and personnel from the Joint Force Headquarters Virginia J4 / G4 Logistics Directorate and VDF coordinated to distribute mission essential equipment such as hundreds of meals, dozens of life vests and radios to five staging locations. The VDF logged more than 1,100 safe miles while distributing these critical supplies, and they were essential in ensuring the Virginia National Guard was postured to respond when called.

A member of the Virginia Defense Force provides administrative support for a Virginia National Guard unit staged Oct. 1, 2022, in Norfolk, Virginia, during the VNG’s response to severe weather.

The VDF expanded their mission support for this response compared to previous events with personnel deploying to multiple VNG staging locations to provide administrative and logistical support. VDF personnel also provided day and night shift operations center augmentation at the Virginia Emergency Operations Center and the VNG Joint Operations Operations as well as public information information support.

Members of the VDF Radio Group supported Scouts taking part in the 65th Annual International Jamboree-on-the-Air and Jamboree-on-the-Internet Oct. 15, 2022, in Great Falls, Virginia. It was part of a worldwide scouting event supported by ham radio operators at locations around the world. The VDF Radio Group is an amateur radio club made up of VDF personnel and affiliated with the American Radio Relay League, Inc.

A member of the Virginia Defense Force’s 31st Cyber Battalion takes part in the hands-on portion of their validation exercise Nov. 6, 2022, in Fairfax, Virginia.

Members of the VDF volunteered their time to provide access control at the 66th annual Commonwealth’s Veterans Day Ceremony  Nov. 11, 2022, at the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond, Virginia. VDF personnel also provided access control support for the return of multiple VaARNG units from overseas federal active duty missions in September, October and November. They also supported the Commonwealth’s Memorial Day Ceremony at the Va. War Memorial May 30, 2022.

Members of the Virginia Defense Force’s Fairfax-based 31st Cyber Battalion, 1st Regiment received official notification Dec. 2, 2022, they successfully completed a validation exercise administered by the Fort Belvoir-based 91st Cyber Brigade and Fairfax-based Information Operations Support Center. The validated personnel are now eligible for participation in cybersecurity missions in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The VDF commissioned three lieutenants and a warrant officer in September 2022 and six lieutenants in December 2022 after completing the VDF Officer Candidate School program.

The VDF continues to focus on the primary lines of effort of operations center augmentation, interoperable communications, agency liaison and cyber network defense as well as direct support to the VNG with logistics, medical, chaplain, legal and public information capabilities.

The Virginia Defense Force commissioned six new officers during a graduation ceremony Dec. 11, 2022, at the National Museum of the United States Army at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Candidates Daniel Coleman, Philip Gorman, Kurt Luther, Robert Reese, William Rimmer IV and Fritz Sassine were promoted to second lieutenant after completing the VDF Officer Candidate School program. Coleman and Rimmer will be assigned to the Richmond-based Support Operations Group, and Gorman, Luther, Reese and Sassine will all be assigned to the Manassas-based 31st Cyber Battalion, 1st Regiment. Col. Matthew Wear, commander of the Virginia National Guard’s Information Operations Support Center was the guest speaker for the event.