LYNCHBURG, Va. — The Virginia Defense Force held a virtual change of command ceremony for the Lynchburg-based Communication Battalion, Support Operations Group May 1, 2020. Due to the restrictions of the current pandemic, the battalion could not assemble in person, so participants from across the state utilized a collaborative virtual platform to conduct a traditional change of command ceremony.
“The change of command ceremony is an important event that is rich with history, tradition, symbolism and military heritage,” explained Lt. Col. (Va.) Nicholas Christoff, commander of the Support Operations Group. “Key to the ceremony is the passing of the unit colors, symbolizing the transfer of authority from the outgoing commander to the incoming commander. This demonstrates to everyone that the outgoing commander has passed the mantle of leadership to the incoming commander and with this, must also pass everyone’s loyalty to their new commander.”
to watch the video from the change of command ceremony.
Maj (Va.) James E. McGee assumed command of the Communication Battalion May 1, 2018, following service as an executive officer, company commander for two different units and battalion commander. A highlight during his time in command was the execution of a successful Virginia Defense Force and U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary interoperability exercise.
“Maj. McGee formed the unit, being responsible for the establishment, development, and integration of Mobile Communication Platforms as a force multiplier,” Christoff said. “He provided strong leadership while successfully guiding his command through multiple training assemblies and exercises over a two-year period, and he remains a trusted and valued member as he transfers to the position of liaison officer to Virginia Department of Emergency Management Region Three.”
McGee was awarded the VDF Commendation Medal in recognition of his service and accomplishments. His wife was presented a bouquet of flowers in recognition of her support to unit members and their families.
The colors were passed to Maj (Va.) Joseph T. Wallace charging him with command responsibility for the battalion. He assumed command following assignments as G3 training and operations officer, executive officer and officer in charge for VDF support to Emergency Support Function 16.
“Maj. Wallace’s mission is to build upon the foundation created by his predecessor and to lead the unit as it grows and trains for its mission-critical roles serving the Virginia Defense Force, the Virginia National Guard and the entire Commonwealth of Virginia,” Christoff said.
“During these challenging times, even as we continue our service, traditions, and changes in leadership, the VDF is providing troops to augment the Virginia National Guard in its response to the pandemic,” he said.
About the Virginia Defense Force:
The VDF is authorized by Title 44 of the Code of Virginia as the all-volunteer reserve of the Virginia National Guard, and they are a force multiplier and integrated into all VNG domestic response operations. 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. The VDF reports to the Adjutant General of Virginia as part of the Virginia Department of Military Affairs along with the Virginia Army National Guard and Virginia Air National Guard.
The VDF Communication Battalion is equipped with four Mobile Communication Platforms. The MCP is a 7 1/2 feet by 16 feet trailer equipped with multiple radio systems for voice and data communications, and it also features a map board and work space so it can function as a mobile command post. Using an MCP, members of the VDF are able to communicate across a variety of radio spectrums with emergency response and public safety organizations as well as amateur radio operators.