Va. Defense Force conducts unit redesignation ceremony

The Virginia Defense Force conducts a Change of Unit Designation Ceremony Sept. 28, 2013, at Fort Pickett as part of the organization's ongoing reorganization effort. During the ceremony, the VDF stood down the Black Horse and Highland Brigades and activated the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Regiments. In previously held ceremonies, the VDF deactivated the Lafayette Brigade and stood up the 1st Regiment. The all-volunteer VDF is in the final stages of a reorganization that will make them more flexible and capable of providing the mission packages as prescribed by the Virginia National Guard Defense Support to Civil Authorities Playbook. Some of the response packages include Incident Management Assistance Teams, JOC Augmentation Teams as well as teams focused on interoperable communications and shelter management. At the end of the ceremony, retiring VDF Command Sgt. Maj. Andy Stevens was recognized for his 28 years of active duty service in the U. S. Army and 11 years of service in the VDF. After the ceremony, Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia, addressed VDF leaders at their annual Commander's Conference. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

The Virginia Defense Force conducts a Change of Unit Designation Ceremony Sept. 28, 2013, at Fort Pickett as part of the organization’s ongoing reorganization effort. During the ceremony, the VDF stood down the Black Horse and Highland Brigades and activated the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Regiments. In previously held ceremonies, the VDF deactivated the Lafayette Brigade and stood up the 1st Regiment. The all-volunteer VDF is in the final stages of a reorganization that will make them more flexible and capable of providing the mission packages as prescribed by the Virginia National Guard Defense Support to Civil Authorities Playbook. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

FORT PICKETT, Va. — The Virginia Defense Force conducted a Change of Unit Designation Ceremony Sept. 28, 2013, at Fort Pickett as part of the organization’s ongoing reorganization and modernization effort. During the ceremony, the VDF stood down the Black Horse and Highland Brigades and activated the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Regiment Response Teams. In previously held ceremonies, the VDF deactivated the Lafayette Brigade and Division Troop Command and stood up the 1st and 6th RRTs. The reorganization will make them more flexible and capable of providing the mission response packages as prescribed by the Virginia National Guard Defense Support to Civil Authorities Playbook.

“Today is the first day of the future for the Virginia Defense Force,” said Maj. Gen. (Va.) John Taylor, commander of the VDF. “A lot of people don’t like change, but I can assure you that this change process we are going through went through detailed planning and analysis, and it will allow us to be more flexible and more capable of responding to a disaster to help the citizens of the commonwealth.”

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. Member of the VDF volunteer their time during monthly drill periods, but are paid when called to state active duty by the Governor of Virginia.

“You are the key, and our mission is a noble one,” Taylor told the VDF members at the ceremony.”What better thing could we do than help our fellow Virginias in their time of need?”

At the end of the ceremony, retiring VDF Command Sgt. Maj. Andy Stevens was recognized for his 28 years of active duty service in the U. S. Army and 11 years of service in the VDF.Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Green, senior enlisted leader for the Virginia National Guard, presented Stevens with the “Keeper of the Colors” statue on behalf of the senior NCOs of the Guard, and Stevens also received the VDF Distinguished Service Medal.

After the ceremony, Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia, addressed VDF leaders at their annual Commander’s Conference.

“Thanks for what you all do,” Long said. “What you do for the commonwealth of Virginia is amazing. Not many people are willing to give up their weekends and do the kinds of things that you do as you volunteer your time and continue to serve.”

Under the new organization, the VDF is split into an East and West Division Response Forces, each commanded by a VDF brigadier general. The 1st and 2nd RRTs and Garrison Command fall under DRF-East, and the 3rd, 4th and 5th RRTs fall under DRF-West. There are multiple Multi-function Response Groups in each RRT, the MRGs each contain different response teams that provide a variety of different functions including communications support with Incident Management Assistance Teams, High Frequency Radio Teams, State Agencies Radio System Team and Mobile Communication Platform Teams as well as State Managed Shelter Teams. Other VDF missions include providing augmentation teams to the Virginia Guard Joint Operations Center and Virginia Emergency Operations Center as well as resources for chaplain support and access control.

An Incident Management Assistance Team deploys 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.

A State Managed Shelter Liaison Team provides trained shelter support specialists for state managed shelter operations to the Virginia Department of Social Servies to assist with planning and shelter operations as well as logistics coordination.

A Mobile Communication Platform Team provides a wide variety of interoperable communications capability that are invaluable when severe weather degrades normal communication channels.

A State Agencies Radio System Team is specially trained to operate the radio system used by the Virginia State Police.