VNG Soldiers support security effort in Charlottesville

The Virginia National Guard assists Virginia State Police with security operations Aug. 11, 2018, in Charlottesville, Virginia. (U.S. National Guard photo by Cotton Puryear)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Virginia National Guard Soldiers assisted local and state law enforcement and provided aviation reconnaissance support to the Unified Command operating in Charlottesville during the anniversary of the Unite the Right rally August 10-12, 2018, in Charlottesville, Virginia. The Unified Command consisted of law enforcement, fire and emergency services personnel from the City of Charlottesville, Albemarle County and the University of Virginia as well as the Virginia State Police and multiple other localities with the primary goal of keeping citizens safe.

“There was tremendous interagency support to Charlottesville by our local, regional and state partners,” said Brig. Gen. James W. Ring, the Virginia National Guard director of the joint staff. “The professional support provided by the men and women of the Virginian National Guard and the Virginia Defense Force remains a key enabler to the commonwealth during state emergency response operations. We continue to build on our longstanding partnership with the Virginia State Police and appreciate their service and professionalism throughout the mission.”

Virginia National Guard aviation crews provide a video feed the Unified Command Aug. 11, 2018, in Charlottesville, Virginia. (U.S. National Guard photo by Cotton Puryear)

More than 100 Soldiers assigned to the Manassas-based 229th Military Police Company, 1030th Transportation Battalion, 329th Regiment Support Group augmented the Virginia State Police. Aviator crews assigned to the Chesterfield-based Detachment 1, Company A, 2nd Battalion, 151st Aviation Regiment flew a UH-72 Lakota helicopter equipped with special optical equipment to provide incident awareness and assessment through a live video feed to the incident command post in Charlottesville.

“The Virginia National Guard was instrumental to the overall success of the public safety response to the Aug. 10-12 events in Charlottesville,” said Virginia State Police Capt. Craig Worsham, the incident commander. “The VSP views the VNG as a crucial partner in providing response to the commonwealth’s public safety challenges. The VNG MPs performed superbly, and they are highly respected by their VSP counterparts.”

Worsham said that the VNG aviation integration and synchronization with VSP aviation was so seamless that no one in the incident command post could tell which organization was providing the video feed.

Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Manassas-based 229th Military Police Company stand prepared to provide assistance to Virginia State Police and local law enforcement Aug. 12, 2018, in Charlottesville, Virginia. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne)

Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Manassas-based 229th Military Police Company stand prepared to provide assistance to Virginia State Police and local law enforcement Aug. 12, 2018, in Charlottesville, Virginia. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne)

He explained that the 229th MPs were organized into two civil disturbance unit response platoons and were supplemented by a VSP arrest squad. Earlier in the year, 229th Soldiers trained alongside their VSP Tactical Field Force colleagues on three occasions prior to the Charlottesville assignment. When some VSP personnel had to reposition to Northern Virginia Aug. 12, the VNG Soldiers were able to provide the additional capabilities law enforcement needed for the mission.

“I believe that the Virginia National Guard contributed greatly to the success of the mission, and we would not have been able to redirect resources elsewhere without them,” said Lt. J.P. Koushel, VSP Tactical Field Force coordinator. “The training we have conducted together, the relationship building that we have worked on for the past several years and the ability to treat each other as equal partners provided a valuable resource to our citizens to protect life and property. The 229th MPs conducted themselves as true professionals and should be commended for their service to Virginia.”

Additional Soldiers, Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force provided mission command, logistics and public information support in Charlottesville, Richmond and Sandston.