Va. Defense Force welcomes new commander

Brig. Gen. (Va.) Justin P. Carlitti, Sr., takes command of the Virginia Defense Force from Maj. Gen. (Va.) John Taylor in a ceremony Sept. 28, 2014, at Fort Pickett. Va. Brig. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, conducted the exchange of unit colors that signified the transfer of command. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Brig. Gen. (Va.) Justin P. Carlitti, Sr., takes command of the Virginia Defense Force from Maj. Gen. (Va.) John Taylor in a ceremony Sept. 28, 2014, at Fort Pickett. Va. Brig. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, conducted the exchange of unit colors that signified the transfer of command. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

FORT PICKETT, Va. — Brig. Gen. (Va.) Justin P. Carlitti, Sr., took command of the Virginia Defense Force from Maj. Gen. (Va.) John Taylor in a ceremony Sept. 28, 2014, at Fort Pickett. Va. Brig. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, conducted the exchange of unit colors that signified the transfer of command. Carlitti was promoted Sept. 27 and previously served as the chief of staff for the VDF. Taylor is retiring after leading the VDF for eight years and serving in the Virginia National Guard for more than 33 years.

“I appreciate each and every one of you for what you have done while I have been the commanding general,” Taylor told the members of the VDF gathered for the ceremony. He commended them for increasing the number of assigned missions they perform for the Virginia Department of Military Affairs, as well as for the increased standards, professionalism, diversity and overall quality of the force.

“This month in the 30th anniversary of the Virginia Defense Force, and I feel very honored to be a member,” Carlitti said. “Carlitti said. “There is no truer calling than what these men and women do here today, and that is protecting and serving their fellow citizens of the commonwealth of Virginia. Be proud of yourselves and the history of service of those who proceeded you.”

Carlitti also stressed the importance of having the support of families and how the members of the VDF would not be able to do their jobs without that support.

Taylor served for more than 33 years in the Virginia National Guard and retired as a colonel. He took command of the VDF in August 2006. While serving as the commander of the Virginia Defense Force, he worked full time providing contract support at National Guard Bureau conducting strategic analysis and management studies on homeland security, consequence management, homeland defense, civil support operations and reserve component force integration and modernization.

“We wish Maj. Gen. Taylor the best in his retirement and thank him for his decades of service to Virginia and our nation,” Williams said.”During his time in command of the VDF, he brought much needed focus to the organization’s mission capabilities, promoted the volunteer spirit vital to the organization’s success and greatly increased the VDF’s role in DMA’s overall response plan.”

Carlitti, a native of Syracuse, New York, attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York with a Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps scholarship. Upon graduation in 1982 with a Bachelors of Science degree in electrical engineering, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps. He was designated as a communications officer upon completion of the Basic School and the Basic Communication Officers Course in Quantico, Va.

“Brig. Gen. Carlitti’s wealth of military and civilian experience make him the ideal candidate to lead the Virginia Defense Force and build on the dramatic improvements made to organization under Maj. Gen. Taylor,” Williams said. “He knows the organization well, and I am confident he will maintain the same high levels of readiness and continue to make sure the VDF continues to be an integral part of the Virginia Department of Military Affairs response capabilities.”

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 members of the VDF volunteer their time for training and are only paid when called to state active duty by an authorization from the Governor of Virginia. Members of the VDF bring a wealth of skills from their civilian careers with many members having military, law enforcement, fire service or telecommunications backgrounds.

During domestic operations, the VDF deploys different response teams that provide a variety of functions including communications support with Incident Management Assistance Teams, High Frequency Radio Teams, State Agencies Radio System Teams and Mobile Communication Platform 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.

Carlitti served on active duty until 1991 when he joined the Marine Corps Reserve and accepted a civil service position with the Department of the Army in Washington, D. C. Through his career as a Marine reservist, he served in multiple assignments including a mobilization in 2003 in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom serving as an operations officer and deputy communications officer for II Marine Expeditionary Force Augmentation Command Element based on Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Upon demobilization, he assumed command of the Marine Wing Communications Squadron-48, 4th Marine Aircraft Wing based in Chicago, Ill. While in command, he deployed detachments to Iraq and supported recovery operations in response to Hurricane Katrina. In 2006, Carlitti assumed command of a Joint Military Reserve Intelligence Group, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Washington, DC.

Upon retiring from the Marine Corps in 2009, Carlitti joined the Virginia Defense Force serving as its VDF communications officer, operations and training officer and chief of staff.

Carlitti is a senior civilian with the Department of the Army where he is serving in a joint duty assignment.

Carlitti is a 1996 graduate of the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, a 2003 graduate of the U. S. Army War College earning a masters degree in strategic studies, and a 2009 graduate of the Joint Forces Staff College Advanced Joint professional military education course. He has completed FEMA’s Professional Development Series, its Community Emergency Response Team course, and holds a Military Emergency Management Specialist designation. Carlitti is also licensed by the FCC as an amateur extra class radio operator and is a trained adult Boy Scout leader.

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