Va. National Guard personnel display equipment to General Assembly, Governor commends the Guard

Senior Virginia National Guard leader provide updates to members of the Virginia General Assembly Jan. 21, 2016, in Richmond, Virginia.

Senior Virginia National Guard leader provide updates to members of the Virginia General Assembly Jan. 21, 2016, in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office)

RICHMOND, Va. — Governor Terry McAuliffe, First Lady of Virginia Dorothy McAuliffe, Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran and members of the Virginia General Assembly commended the Virginia National Guard for the organization’s service to commonwealth and country at a legislative reception hosted Jan. 21, 2016, by the Virginia National Guard Association and Virginia Guard Enlisted Association at the Library of Virginia in Richmond, Virginia. Earlier in the day, Virginia National Guard Soldiers, Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force displayed some of the Guard’s capabilities for domestic operations outside the General Assembly building.

“Thank you all for your tremendous service,” McAuliffe said. “I love our Guard, and we are going to do everything we possibly can to support you. We are there for you, because you are here for us every day.”

In particular, he recognized the personnel serving on federal active duty overseas as well as the Soldiers, Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force mobilizing Thursday evening for state active duty to prepare for winter storm response operations.

Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, hosted a reception for members of the General Assembly Thursday morning where senior Virginia Guard leaders answered questions and provided insights into the missions and capabilities of the Guard.

The threat of severe winter weather impacted the attendance at all the events, but Williams said they were still very productive and successful in educating legislators about the Guard’s capabilities.

“I think the Va. Guard Day was a complete success, particularly when you consider we were facing down a major winter storm,” Williams said. “Despite that, we had great attendance at all the events, and this was an important opportunity for us to highlight some of the unique capabilities the Virginia National Guard can provide the commonwealth. Many people are familiar with our federal mission, but not everyone is aware of our mission command, communications and chemical, biological and nuclear response capabilities.”

The Virginia National Guard has more than 500 Soldiers on federal active duty from all over the state conducting security and support operations in Southwest Asia and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Nearly 600 Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen are scheduled to mobilize in 2016.

In addition to the Soldiers and Airmen who started federal mobilizations in 2015, multiple Army and Air Guard units completed deployments and returned home after providing logistical planning and support, security and combat aviation capability.

Read more about the Virginia National Guard’s accomplishments in 2015:

See the top Virginia National Guard news articles from 2015:

The Virginia National Guard has lost 10 Soldiers to hostile enemy action since Sept. 11, 2001, and four of those Soldiers were honored at ceremonies held in Winchester in August and and Fredericksburg in December where the readiness center was renamed in their memory. The full list is online at the following link:

Units participating in the displays outside the General Assembly Building were the Virginia Guard’s Counterdrug Program, the 34th Civil Support Team, the command and control suite of the Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear High Yield Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package, the State Partnership Program, the 192nd Intelligence Squadron, the 200th Weather Flight and a Mobile Communications Platform from the VDF.

The Virginia National Guard Counterdrug Program places Guardsmen in support of law enforcement agencies with criminal analysts, ion scanning for drug residue on currency and aviation support.

The Fort Pickett-based 34th CST is comprised of 22 full-time Army and Air National Guard personnel with the mission to support civil authorities at a domestic CBRNE incident site with identification and assessment of hazards, advice to civil authorities, and facilitating the arrival of follow-on military forces during emergencies and incidents of weapons of mass destruction terrorism. The unit complements and enhances, but does not duplicate, state CBRNE response capabilities is divided into six sections: command, operations, communications, administration/logistics, medical/analytical and survey.

The CERFP can conduct tasks associated with incident management, search and rescue, mass decontamination, medical triage and treatment and fatality search and recovery. The force is made up of traditional Soldiers and Airmen from units based in Petersburg, West Point, Rocky Mount and Langley Air Force Base as well as the D.C. National Guard.

Both the 34th Civil Support Team and the CERFP were evaluated as fully mission capable after conduct external evaluations in 2015.

As part of the National Guard’s State Partnership Program, the Virginia National Guard conducts military-to-military engagements in support of defense security goals, but also leverages whole-of-society relationships and capabilities to facilitate broader interagency and corollary engagements spanning military, government, economic and social spheres. Va. Guard Soldiers and Airmen gain experience working overseas with Tajikistani partners and reinforce the knowledge, skills and attributes obtained during the past decade.

During domestic operations, Airmen from the 192nd Intelligence Squadron use full motion video from fixed and rotary wing platforms to provide incident awareness and assessment. The 192nd IS also provides systems interoperability for emergency managers and first responders to enable effective communication across agencies and jurisdictions. IAA synchronizes and integrates the planning and execution of various information capabilities which provide situational awareness and assessment to civil authorities in support of domestic operations.

The 200th Weather Flight provides tailored tactical combat-environment weather observing and forecasting support to the Army National Guard’s 29th Infantry Division and to the Adjutant General of Virginia and Joint Staff during hazardous weather situation in the commonwealth. With the assistance of the 200th Weather Flight, the Virginia Guard is able to anticipate the impact of hazardous weather and help determine the most effective employment locations for Virginia Guard personnel.

The VDF is an all-volunteer state military force authorized by the Code of Virginia and organized under the Virginia Department of Military Affairs reporting to the Adjutant General of Virginia. The organization capitalizes on the civilian skills and expertise of it members and trains to augment the Virginia Guard at command and control operations centers and provide interoperable communications and security augmentation.

About the Virginia National Guard:

The Virginia National Guard is a unique dual-status force with a federal mission to provide an operational combat reserve to fight our nation’s wars and a state mission to provide a response force that answers the call of the Governor to defend the commonwealth. The Guard also builds partnerships to maximize resources and ensure its ability to rapidly respond as an effective member of a joint, multi-agency team when needed. It is a community-based military force with readiness centers and training, aviation and maintenance facilities in more than 40 communities that crisscross the commonwealth from Winchester to Abingdon, Staunton to Virginia Beach, Manassas to Emporia and Danville to Warrenton.

Since September 11, 2001, more than 15,000 Virginia Guard Soldiers and Airmen have mobilized on federal active duty for homeland security missions and combat operations, sustainment support and peacekeeping in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo and other locations around the world.

Since 2001, the Virginia National Guard has called up more than 7,300 personnel for duty to support domestic emergency operations as part of a coordinated state-wide response, as well as missions in Louisiana, Mississippi, West Virginia, New York and Vermont.