Va. Guard, VDF demonstrated readiness throughout 2014

Virginia National Guard Soldiers from the Fredericksburg-based 116th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 116th Brigade Combat Team assist a stranded motorist Feb. 13, 2014, near Fredericksburg. Va. (Photo by Tech. Sgt. Meghan Skrepenski, Virginia Air National Guard Public Affairs)

Virginia National Guard Soldiers from the Fredericksburg-based 116th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 116th Brigade Combat Team assist a stranded motorist Feb. 13, 2014, near Fredericksburg. Va. (Photo by Tech. Sgt. Meghan Skrepenski, Virginia Air National Guard Public Affairs)

SANDSTON, Va. — The Virginia Department of Military had another busy year in 2014 and continued to balance the demands of both its federal and state missions. All over the world and here in the United Sates, the Virginia Army National Guard, Air National Guard and Virginia Defense Force demonstrated that its forces were prepared and ready to rapidly respond when needed.

“I could not be more proud of the fantastic service of our men and women of the Virginia National Guard and Virginia Defense Force,” said Brig. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia. “The challenge we face now is to maintain our high level of readiness in the face of fiscal constraints. I am confident we will maintain our readiness if we focus on back-to-basics training and continue to build partnerships with key local, state and federal agencies to make sure we maximize the resources we all have available. Leaders must identify to tasks that are key to accomplishing our state and federal missions and use the time and money we have to maximize their training in those areas.”

While the pace of federal mobilizations has slowed in 2014, Virginia Guard units continued to play important roles in combat operations. Soldiers from the Emporia-based 1710th Transportation Company, the 1945th Contingency Contracting Team and Detachment 26, Operational Support Airlift Command returned from successful federal active duty mobilizations, and the Virginia Beach-based 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion deployed to Kuwait. Soldiers from the 529th are providing mission command for critical sustainment operations supporting combat units throughout the Central Command region. When the F-22 Raptor flew its first combat missions against ISIL targets, Virginia National Guard Airmen from the 192nd Fighter Wing were there side by side with the active duty.

In other parts of the world, Soldiers from the Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division paid tribute to D-Day veterans in June at the 70th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy. From April to June, approximately 110 Soldiers from the Sandston-based 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment supported Operation Beyond the Horizon and flew more than 300 hours over Guatemalan skies.

Here in Virginia, the DMA personnel conducted a number of domestic operations where they responded to severe weather and supported high profile events. In January, more than 225 Soldiers, Airmen and members of the VDF supported the inauguration of Governor Terry McAuliffe. In February, Soldiers provided a variety of assistance after heavy snow created hazardous road conditions across the state. In May, more than 120 members of the all-volunteer VDF augmented local law enforcement to help make sure the Winchester Apple Blossom Festival went smoothly.

Virginia Guard personnel also conducted domestic training and response operations outside the state as close as West Virginia and as far California. The Fort Pickett-based 34th Civil Support Team, along with personnel from other states, used the skills and training they have for sampling and identifying unknown chemical or biological agents to help West Virginia officials evaluate the quality of water after a chemical spill left more than 300,000 residents without drinking water. Soldiers from the Rocky Mount-based 229th Chemical Company traveled to the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif. in September for a training rotation that sharpened the unit’s warfighting abilities.

Virginia Guard and VDF personnel continued to build partnerships with key agencies throughout the year including working alongside the Virginia Department of Emergency Management in response to an National Guard F-15C jet crash in Augusta County and multiple units training with local first responders. These important partnerships help the Virginia Guard and VDF maximize resources and improve effectiveness when conducting domestic operations.