VDF trains, evaluates communication teams
Members of the Virginia Defense Force conduct training and evaluation on multiple communications systems Sept. 24, 2016, at Fort Pickett, Virginia. VDF troops are organized into response teams that provide capabilities like high frequency radio, Statewide Agencies Radio System, incident management assistance and operation of Mobile Communications Platform trailers, and all of those capabilities were evaluated to make sure the teams are trained and ready to assist the Virginia National Guard if needed during domestic response operations. Soldiers from the Virginia National Guard's joint communications section provided training on the updated versions of the Tactical Communication Packages used for internet connectivity to operate web-based communications.

The training weekend is the second of three phases leading to a large-scale collective training exercise in November when the VDF will conduct "Forward Guardian" with all the units in the state operating at their home stations. The exercise is also expected to include other nearby state defense force organizations.

The Virginia Defense Force is the Virginia National Guard’s all-volunteer reserve force authorized by the Code of Virginia and reporting to the Adjutant General of Virginia. Members of the VDF volunteer their time for training and community support and are only paid when called to state active duty by an authorization from the Governor of Virginia.

The VDF is organized into four regiments: 1st Regiment based in Richmond and covering the Petersburg and Hampton Roads area, 2nd Regiment based in Manassas and covering the Northern Virginia area, 3rd Regiment based in Winchester and running through the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia area and 4th Regiment based in Lynchburg and covering through Roanoke into Southwest Virginia.

Members of the VDF train and operate side-by-side with the Virginia Army National Guard and Virginia Air National Guard as part of a multi-agency state response team. They are integrated into all Guard domestic operations and serve as a force multiplier to provide important additional capabilities to help the Guard assist citizens in their time of need.

VDF members bring a wide variety of public safety, military and civilian skills to mission sets including access control, interoperable communications support, operations center augmentation, resource management, operational planning, incident management assistance and public information.

In addition to their support to the Virginia National Guard, the VDF is actively engaged in supporting their local communities and have provided assistance to city and county law enforcement and emergency response organizations to help make sure large scale events run smoothly and safely. In the last year, members of the VDF volunteered their time in their communities with activities like assisting with parking at the Virginia War Memorial during Veterans Day and Memorial Day, assisting law enforcement with access control at the Winchester Apple Blossom Festival and Lynchburg Air Show and providing a color guard for a festival in the Hampton Roads area.
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