Guard leaders build partnerships with base visit

Senior Virginia National Guard leaders visit United States Coast Guard Base Portsmouth Sept. 29, 2015, as part of an ongoing effort to built strategic partnerships in the Hampton Roads region. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Senior Virginia National Guard leaders visit United States Coast Guard Base Portsmouth Sept. 29, 2015, as part of an ongoing effort to built strategic partnerships in the Hampton Roads region. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — Senior Virginia National Guard leaders visited United States Coast Guard Base Portsmouth Sept. 29, 2015, as part of an ongoing effort to built strategic partnerships in the Hampton Roads region. Capt. Brenda Kerr, Commanding Officer of Base Portsmouth and Capt Rick Wester, Deputy Sector Commander Hampton Roads, hosted Brig. Gen. Steven T. Scott, Virginia National Guard Assistant Adjutant General – Army Strategic Initiatives, Lt. Col. Preston Scott, commander of Fort Pickett Virginia Army National Guard Maneuver Training Center, and Lt. Col. Elena Scarbrough, commander of Camp Pendleton Collective Training Center, for a base tour that included a firing range and several Coast Guard vessels.

“We really value the relationships with other services and state agency partners,” Brig. Gen. Scott said. “This visit helps us better understand the resources and capabilities of Coast Guard and this base so we would be more effective in working together if there was an emergency situation. It is important that we know each other and have that mutual respect.”

Kerr recently visited Camp Pendleton and extended the invitation for Virginia Guard leadership to the base.

“We both are support bases, and sometimes if we can’t support an activity we know what alternatives are out there and what their capabilities are,” Kerr said. “We know Camp Pendleton now, and they know us.”

For example, Kerr said that Base Portsmouth can only support landing for a few helicopters, so if someone approached them about a large scale helicopter exercise they could direct them to Camp Pendleton.

Kerr said that these kinds of interactions help build a regional capability in the Hampton Roads area.

“We are all interagency partners at the state level for emergency operations and we need to understand how to work together,” she said. “A lot of times the operators work and train together, but this is the support community. Our operators can’t conduct an activity if they don’t have the support community behind them.”

Base Portsmouth has a staff of about 500 that provide a variety of support functions such as maintenance, personnel actions, administration, medical and family support. The base directly supports 1,700 Coast Guardsman and also provides support for for more than 17,000 across Coast Guard District 5.

Scott said the tour also reinforced his respect for the Coast Guard.

“I have always been impressed by the Coast Guard,” Scott said. “They do their mission every day, and they are in harm’s way every day. Most of the services train for wars they hope never come, but they are out there putting themselves at risk to help keep us safe.”

Camp Pendleton is a state-owned 328-acre installation that provides training facilities for National Guard units, as well as all other Department of Defense active and reserve units and public safety organizations. The post features administrative buildings, conference facilities, barracks, classrooms, dining facilities, a live-fire qualification range and nine different virtual trainers as well as a chapel, fitness center, distance learning center, wooded training areas, helipad, land navigation course and military access beach and amphibious landing site.

Camp Pendleton recently hosted a wide variety of training and activities including Geospatial Information System training for the Virginia National Guard, the 2015 Virginia Association of Volunteer Rescue Squads Competition and a Unit Movement Officer Course for multiple National Guard states and the Coast Guard.