VDF exercise tests interoperable communications capabilities

Members of the Virginia Defense Force establish communications in a mobile command post during an exercise where they supported a Joint Force Headquarters-Virginia exercise as well as underwent team evaluations Sept. 26, 2015, at Fort Pickett, Va. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Members of the Virginia Defense Force establish communications in a mobile command post during an exercise where they supported a Joint Force Headquarters-Virginia exercise as well as underwent team evaluations Sept. 26, 2015, at Fort Pickett, Va. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

FORT PICKETT, Va. — Members of the Virginia Defense Force conducted collective team evaluations of their assigned National Guard Civil Support missions and supported a Joint Force Headquarters – Virginia communication exercise Sept. 25-27, 2015, at Fort Pickett, Va.

As part of the training scenario, the VDF’s Regiments conducted an Emergency Deployment Readiness Exercise to notify personnel to report for duty then mustered at Fort Pickett to establish forward operating bases. Each regiment deployed a mobile command post trailer equipped with a variety of communication capabilities.

The VDF teams went through a series of situational exercises to evaluate specific skill sets and successfully communicated with the Virginia National Guard’s Joint Operations Center in Sandston using a variety of systems including high frequency radios and the Statewide Agencies Radio System used by law enforcement agencies in Virginia.

The exercise was designed to test the VDF’s ability to communicate if there was an incident that degraded systems like mobile phone networks. Providing interoperable communications is one of the many different missions sets the VDF provides as the all-volunteer auxiliary to the Virginia National Guard.

VDF members also conducted other training during the weekend including ICS-300 Intermediate Incident Command System for Expanding Incidents.

“This series of evaluations was designed to assess the teams in preparation for Forward Guardian 2016, which will be a state-wide communications exercise,” explained Lt. Col. (Va.) Stewart W. Bentley, Jr., operations officer for the VDF. “In addition, Forward Guardian 2016 will integrate the Virginia Civil Air Patrol and other State Defense Forces into the exercise.”

The VDF is an all-volunteer force authorized by the Code of Virginia and organized under the Virginia Department of Military Affairs reporting to the Adjutant General of Virginia. The 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.

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