Va. Defense Force continues to build communications expertise

Virginia Defense Force troops in Richmond, Virginia, take part in the United Resolve communications exercise which brought together multiple state defense forces, emergency communications professionals and amateur radio operators June 25, 2016, to share knowledge and improve their capabilities to communicate using a variety of systems. (Photo by Spc. (Va.) Corbin Puryear, Virginia Defense Force Public Information Detachment)

Virginia Defense Force troops in Richmond, Virginia, take part in the United Resolve communications exercise which brought together multiple state defense forces, emergency communications professionals and amateur radio operators June 25, 2016, to share knowledge and improve their capabilities to communicate using a variety of systems. (Photo by Spc. (Va.) Corbin Puryear, Virginia Defense Force Public Information Detachment)

SANDSTON, Va. — Virginia Defense Force units across the commonwealth took part in the United Resolve communications exercise which brought together multiple state defense forces, emergency communications professionals and amateur radio operators June 25, 2016, to share knowledge and improve their capabilities to communicate using a variety of systems.

“This multi-faceted exercise, with the participation of other state defense forces and the amateur radio community, stressed the growing scope and depth of our operational planning and execution,” said Brig. Gen. Justin Carlitti, commander of the VDF. “In this exercise, we tested new operating modes while continuing to hone existing modes and operating skills with current and new mission partners. It provided us with a good operational baseline as we plan for execution of our Forward Guardian 17 scenario in November with some of these same participants.”

The Virginia Defense Force is the Virginia National Guard’s all-volunteer reserve force authorized by the Code of Virginia and reporting to the Adjutant General of Virginia. Members of the VDF volunteer their time for training and community support and are only paid when called to state active duty by an authorization from the Governor of Virginia.

The VDF is organized into four regiments: 1st Regiment based in Richmond and covering the Petersburg and Hampton Roads area, 2nd Regiment based in Manassas and covering the Northern Virginia area, 3rd Regiment based in Winchester and running through the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia area and 4th Regiment based in Lynchburg and covering through Roanoke into Southwest Virginia.

Members of the VDF train and operate side-by-side with the Virginia Army National Guard and Virginia Air National Guard as part of a multi-agency state response team. They are integrated into all Guard domestic operations and serve as a force multiplier to provide important additional capabilities to help the Guard assist citizens in their time of need.

VDF troops deployed multiple systems including their mobile communication platform trailers as well as high frequency radio teams.

In Petersburg and Chesapeake, VDF troops from 1st Regiment establish HF networks and were able to communicate throughout the state including other VDF units as well as amateur radio operators in North Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, Michigan and Pennsylvania. The mayor of Chesapeake stopped by to meet with members of the Chesapeake Amateur Radios Service as well as VDF troops.

HF teams from 2nd Regiment set up on Manassas and Fredericksburg and honed their skills on optimal antenna placement tied to atmospheric conditions.

In Lovettsville, VDF troops from 3rd Regiment established their MCP alongside several amateur radio organizations.

Fourth Regiment established an MCP on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Fancy Gap as well as their home station of Lynchburg, and they also deployed HF radio teams in Lynchburg and Cedar Bluff. They were successful in making email contact as far away as the Alaska Defense Force as well as contact with an amateur radio operator in the country of Estonia.

VDF members bring a wide variety of public safety, military and civilian skills to mission sets including access control, interoperable communications support, operations center augmentation, resource management, operational planning, incident management assistance and public information.

In addition to their support to the Virginia National Guard, the VDF is actively engaged in supporting their local communities and have provided assistance to city and county law enforcement and emergency response organizations to help make sure large scale events run smoothly and safely. In the last year, members of the VDF volunteered their time in their communities with activities like assisting with parking at the Virginia War Memorial during Veterans Day and Memorial Day, assisting law enforcement with access control at the Winchester Apple Blossom Festival and Lynchburg Air Show and providing a color guard for a festival in the Hampton Roads area.