VDF holds annual training muster at Fort Pickett

Members of the Virginia Defense Force’s Incident Management Assistance Teams take part in training and evaluation during the all-volunteer organization’s annual training muster Sept. 29 at Fort Pickett. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

FORT PICKETT, Va. — More than 200 members of the Virginia Defense Force took part in a variety of different training events focused on response package proficiency and improving professionalism Sept. 29 and 30, 2012, during the all-volunteer organization’s annual training muster at Fort Pickett. Training included professional development courses for staff officers and senior noncommissioned officers as well as a safety officer and NCO course and training for Incident Management Assistance Teams and Mobile Command Post operations. In addition, more than 60 new VDF members took part in Initial Entry Training that focused on basics like VDF history, customs and courtesies, drill and ceremony and map reading.

“This is how we are increasing our level of readiness for our response packages, but also increasing the level of professionalism among members of the VDF,” said Maj. Gen. (Va.) John Taylor, commander of the Virginia Defense Force. He explained that the requirements for providing the VDF’s assigned response packages includes training on implied tasks like safety and leadership, and many of the courses conducted over the weekend focused on those areas.

The safety training included safety officers and NCOs from units across the VDF, as did the Staff Officer Planning Course, First Sergeant Course and Advance Noncommissioned Officer Course. VDF members who complete the training also receive a certificate that can benefit them in their civilian employment.

As part of the Virginia National Guard’s overall response capability, the VDF is assigned specific response packages that can be called up on state active duty when authorized by the Governor. Two of the primary response packages for the VDF are the Incident Management Assistance Teams and Mobile Command Post. IMATs deploy with National Guard mission commanders during a response operation to assist with providing communications capability and help the commander manage information and reporting requirements to Virginia Guard’s Joint Operations Center. The MCPs provide a wide variety of interoperable communications capability that are invaluable when severe weather degrades normal communication channels.

During the IMAT training muster, Taylor explained, VDF members were validated in training conducted over the last 12 to 18 months to make sure they are still proficient with the equipment. The MCP training was a “train the trainer” environment so VDF members can return to their units with greater skills to train other members of their unit. Each of the VDF’s three brigades has a Mobile Command Post trailer as well as the VDF Headquarters.

In addition to the response package training and professional development classes, a number of other VDF staff sections were also involved in the training weekend. The VDF’s Medical Command conducted health screenings and conducted classes on healthy eating and exercise. Members of the VDF’s Food Service Section provided three hot meals a day during the training held Sept. 29 and 30.

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 VDF is organized into a headquarters with three brigades and units at 32 locations across the commonwealth.

For more information about the VDF, visit http://www.vdf.virginia.gov.

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View photos from the training on Flickr:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/sets/72157631652242147/