AG updates General Assembly Military and Veterans Caucus

Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, provides an update on the Virginia National Guard to members of the Virginia General Assembly Military and Veterans Caucus Jan. 17, 2018, in Richmond, Virginia. (U.S. National Guard photo by Cotton Puryear)

RICHMOND, Va. — Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, provided an update on the Virginia National Guard to members of the Virginia General Assembly Military and Veterans Caucus Jan. 17, 2018, in Richmond, Virginia. Before the update, Senator Bryce Reeves and Delegate Nick Freitas, co-chairs of the caucus, recognized retired Col. Rich Anderson for his many years of service in the House of Delegates. Anderson had previously served as the co-chair of the caucus with Reeves.

“As of this past Christmas, it was the first time in many years that we did not have any Virginia Army or Air National Guard units on federal mobilization for duty overseas,” Williams aid. “The tempo is going to start picking back up a bit.”

In recent years, the Virignia National Guard has been one of the most deployed states out of the 54 states, territories and District of Columbia, Williams said. Virginia has mobilized nearly 2,000 Soldiers and Airmen for federal active duty overseas deployments since January 2014, and they join more than 15,000 Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen who served in combat operations, homeland defense, peacekeeping, stabilization and sustainment missions since Sept. 11, 2001.

National Guard cyber warriors from seven states officially began the largest reserve component federal active duty cyber mobilization in Department of Defense history with a transfer of authority ceremony Aug. 15, 2017, at Fort Meade, Maryland. With a significant troop contribution and leadership from the Virginia National Guard, more than 130 Soldiers from California, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Utah came together to form Task Force Echo and assumed the mission from the 169th Cyber Protection Team. The task force operates under the 780th Military Intelligence Brigade while on federal active duty to engineer, install, operate and maintain critical networks for U.S. Cyber Command.

A group of Virginia National Guard Soldiers recently began a federal mobilization to prepare for support to the NATO peacekeeping mission in Kosovo. After more than a year of training, approximately 25 Soldiers assigned to Detachment 2, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 169th Aviation Regiment said goodbye to the Commonwealth of Virginia and officially began their federal mobilization Jan. 4, 2018. After several weeks training in Texas, they will head overseas to begin their mission.

Now the Virginia National Guard must be able to quickly and effectively respond to meet the nation’s security challenges of the 21st century by maintaining a higher level of readiness, Williams said. It is an evolving force focused on readiness, ready to respond to an uncertain, changing global environment

“This is a year of preparation,” Williams said. “All you have to do is turn on the television and see the threats we face. We need to be ready to provide the combat reserve for the Army and Air Force.”

Williams explained to the group how the Guard’s mission has gone through transformation over the years. In the post Vietnam era, the Army was deliberately re-engineered so the country could not go to war without the reserve component.

That transformation continued through the Desert Shield / Desert Storm era, and advanced even more rapidly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Now reserve components are expected to maintain the highest level of readiness using their existing resources, Williams said.

“Our nation can’t go anywhere without the Guard or Reserve,” he said.

Select Virginia National Guard units will see an increase in training beyond the traditional one weekend per month and two weeks during the summer, and these units will be expected to maintain the highest levels of personnel and equipment readiness, Williams explained.

With the continued dedicated service of Virginia’s Soldiers and Airmen and the support of their families, employers and communities, Williams said he is confident the Guard will be successful in meeting today’s increased readiness demands.

Williams also expressed his appreciation for the continued support from the members of the Military and Veterans Caucus and the entire Virginia General Assembly.

The Virginia Department of Military Affairs sponsored the following bills for the 2018 session of the Virginia General Assembly:

House Bill 269 – Virginia National Guard; state active duty pay
Introduced by Delegate John Bell

Summary as Introduced:
Virginia National Guard; state active duty pay. Provides that all members of the Virginia National Guard who are called into state active duty be paid an amount not less than that prescribed for a member with the rank of E-6 who has over 18 years of service.
Read more:
http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?181+sum+HB269

House Bill 563 – Motor vehicles, certain; flashing red or red and white warning lights

Introduced by Hyland F. “Buddy” Fowler, Jr.

Summary as Introduced:
Flashing red or red and white warning lights. Allows vehicles of the National Guard Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High Yield Explosive (CBRNE) Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP) to utilize flashing, blinking, or alternating red or red and white combination warning lights when responding to an emergency.
Read more:
http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?181+sum+HB563

Senate Bill 320 – Virginia National Guard; reversion of donated property

Introduced by: Frank M. Ruff, Jr.

Summary as Introduced:
Reversion of property donated to the Virginia National Guard. Provides that property that is donated or otherwise conveyed to the Commonwealth, Department of Military Affairs, Virginia National Guard, Virginia Army or Air National Guard, or Virginia Defense Force for the purpose of supporting Virginia National Guard or Virginia Defense Force operations may revert back to the donor if the Adjutant General makes a determination that such property is no longer needed to support the organization’s mission. The bill further provides that if the Adjutant General chooses not to allow the reversion or if the donor of the property declines to reacquire it, such property shall be declared excess.
Read more:
http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?181+sum+SB320