RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia Defense Force had a busy year in 2023 supporting Virginia National Guard domestic response operations and VDF personnel volunteering their time to assisting with multiple events across the state. The VDF also conducted numerous training events in order to improve skills, develop leaders and maintain a high state of readiness.
Domestic Response Support
When the VNG mobilized for domestic response operations in a state active duty status, the VDF was right there to provide support capabilities to help ensure mission success.
In July when the VNG mobilized Soldiers and Airmen to assist the Texas Military Department and Operation Lone Star border security operation, members of the VDF provided administrative and logistical support to get the troops ready for the mission. View photos of VDF support on Flickr at https://ngpa.us/2796.
In September, the VNG staged approximately 35 Soldiers with tactical trucks capable of high water transportation at VNG facilities in the Hampton Roads area in order to support the response to impacts of Tropical Storm Ophelia, and the VDF provided administrative and public information support.
In November, the VDF provided logistics distribution, administrative and public information support when the VNG deployed ground and aerial support to the Department of Forestry to help fight wildfires at multiple locations across the state. View photos of VDF support at https://ngpa.us/27972.
The VDF continued to develop leaders as four new officers were commissioned during a graduation ceremony in September at the National Museum of the United States Army at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Candidates Charles Leftwich, Eric Badertscher and Nathan Stiefel were promoted to second lieutenant and Kenneth Taylor was promoted to warrant officer one after completing the eight-month VDF Officer Candidate School program. View photos of the ceremony on Flickr at https://ngpa.us/27970.
Traffic Management, Access Control and Professional Services
Members of the VDF volunteered their time to help make sure multiple events ran smoothly and provided chaplain, medical and legal support to the VNG.
The VDF provided traffic management and access control assistance for multiple events including the Fort Barfoot redesignation ceremony in March, the Adjutant General change of command ceremony in June at Defense Supply Center Richmond, and for Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies at the Virginia War Memorial. View photos of VDF support to Fort Barfoot redesignation ceremony on Flickr at https://ngpa.us/27967.
VDF chaplains supported the 2023 summer annual training season to conduct Sunday services at the Fort Barfoot Bulla Chapel in order to provide religious support to Soldiers conducting training on the installation. The annual training schedule of services included 16 dates between May 14 and August 27.
Members of the VDF assigned to the Medical Services Section, Support Operations Group assisted with instruction at the Virginia Army National Guard 68W combat medic recertification course in August at Fort Barfoot, Virginia.
VDF lawyers provided legal support at VNG Soldier Readiness Processing events as well as legal advice to VDF senior leaders and legal services to fellow VDF members.
Weekend Training Including Communication, Access Control, Cyber Network Defense and Ops Center Augmentation
The VDF conducted multiple training events through the year to help maintain readiness and their ability to rapidly respond when needed.
Members of the VDF honed their communication and access control skills during a statewide hurricane response exercise in May at multiple locations across Virginia and continued to build their relationship with the Civil Air Patrol during support to a search and rescue exercise. The goal of the “Spring Winds 23” hurricane response exercise was to hone and refine technical skills at the individual and company level and develop small unit leadership skills in a hurricane scenario incorporating organic communications and access control capabilities at eight different locations across the state. View photos of the exercise on Flickr at https://ngpa.us/27968.
VDF personnel conducted the “Highland Guardian 23” statewide readiness exercise in October at multiple locations across Virginia. The exercise tested the VDF’s communications and access control capabilities as well as provided training opportunities on operations center augmentation and systems used to maintain common operating picture. The exercise simulated a severe winter storm and how the VDF would support the Virginia National Guard’s role as a member of the state multi-agency response team, and VDF teams operated from their home station armories in Richmond, Fairfax, Warrenton, Winchester and Virginia Beach. View photos of the exercise on Flickr at https://ngpa.us/27971.
Virginia Defense Force personnel volunteered their time to conduct classroom and hands-on training focused on civil support security and communication capabilities during a multi-day unit training assembly in November at Fort Barfoot, Virginia. Classroom training during the weekend included instruction on access control procedures, tabletop exercises focused on a severe weather events and administration of the Federal Communications Commission amateur radio license exam. Hands on training included inspection of communication trailers, traffic control practical exercise and participation in a multi-state cyber competition. View photos on the VNG Flickr site at https://ngpa.us/27966.
VDF personnel assigned to the 31st Cyber Battalion took part in the State Guard Association Capture the Flag Cyber Exercise during the MUTA. The exercise was open to all Title 32 service members and senior military colleges, and teams of two to four people engaged in escalating problem-solving tasks designed to hone their skills in defensive cyber operations. Fifteen different states and 29 different teams took part in the exercise.
VDF personnel assigned to the 11th Signal Battalion took the FCC amateur radio license exam during the MUTA. The VDF Radio Group administered the exam, and 10 VDF members passed and qualified for the entry-level Technician class license and are now authorized to wear the “Technician” tab on their uniform. For the year, a total of 13 personnel passed the Technician class exam and one passed the General class exam.
“You as volunteer members of the Virginia Defense Force are a very important part of our commonwealth’s fabric,” said Maj. Gen. James W. Ring, the Adjutant General of Virginia during a troop visit on the final day of training. “You are part of Virginia’s constitutional force who raised your right hand freely to join this organized militia to be always ready, always there in the event the commonwealth calls you.”
Ring said that over his three decades of service in the Virginia National Guard he has seen the tremendous value and capabilities that the men and women of the VDF provide to the Virginia National Guard’s mission.
“It starts first and foremost with each of you individually and the fact that you bring your spirit of volunteerism to come forward and willingness to serve, not on behalf of yourself, not on behalf of your teammates, but serving on behalf of your communities when they may be at a point in need.”
Ring expressed his appreciation for VDF service.
“Thank you for who you are, and please extend that thanks to your families and loved ones as you take time away from what would have normally been a free weekend,” Ring said. “The fact that each and every one of you volunteered to freely be here to improve your skills as a member of the VDF is of great value and an important part of the resilience of the great state of Virginia.”
View photos of the AG’s visit on Flickr at https://ngpa.us/27973.
View a collection of VDF photo albums on at https://ngpa.us/27965.