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NEWS | March 20, 2018

DMA personnel train on new radio equipment with VSP

By Sgt. 1st Class Terra C. Gatti Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office

After years of research, planning and approval processes, the Virginia Department of Military Affairs finally received more than $1.7 million in Statewide Agencies Radio System, or STARS, equipment. On March 15, 2018, representatives from the Virginia State Police, who manage the system, conducted a short training session on the equipment for Virginia Soldiers, Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force.

“The STARS radio implementation is something we’ve been working on for about six years now,” explained Chief Warrant Officer 5 Christopher Johnson, deputy communications officers for the Virginia National Guard joint staff. “They’re highly mobile and you can talk from one end of the state to the other and it gives us interoperability with state police and with all the other state agencies and with the localities as well.”

According to the VSP website, “STARS provides multi-channel trunked digital voice and data wireless communications that are specifically designed for public safety and service requirements” and provides support to 21 state agencies. Across the state, there are 87 tower sites that will grow to 121 sites in the coming years, and 48 of those sites “will be used for the actual two-way communications with the users’ mobile and portable radios. From these sites, the Commonwealth personnel will receive quality, statewide, mobile radio coverage.”

Johnson explained that his staff worked with the VSP to develop a system that met the unique needs of organization.

“The total funding amount was $1.7 million for all this equipment and the state police built it,” Johnson said. “We worked with them to make it a special military-compatible system so we can put them in humvees and hook them to a NATO plug and also load them into our GSAs.”

The new systems will be divided and sent to units across the state, with the larger systems going to Joint Force Headquarters and the 29th Infantry Division.

During the training, Soldiers from the 29th Infantry Division, Joint Force Headquarters, 229th Military Police Company and the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, High Yield Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package, or CERFP, joined Virginia Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force for a short introduction to the system that focused on how to use and maintain the STARS.

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