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NEWS | April 15, 2018

Virginia Dept. of Military Affairs conducts continuity of operations exercise

By A.J. Coyne | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office

Virginia Department of Military Affairs state employees conduced a continuity of operations exercise April 11-13, 2018, at the Camp Pendleton State Military Reservation in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

The three-day exercise simulated an emergency which forced the employees to leave Fort Pickett and relocate to Virginia Beach. It provided an opportunity for 24 DMA employees to test their network connectivity, perform their work functions from a different location, conduct staff visits and face-to-face coordination with SMR staff and tenant organizations, and troubleshoot their standard operating procedures and continuity binders.

The biennial exercise had four objectives, according to Don Sutherland, chief financial officer for the Virginia Department of Military Affairs.

The first was to see if the employees could relocate to another site and operate effectively if Building 316 at Fort Pickett is not useable.

“We come down here and test the network and the wireless hotspots and make sure we can get to all the sites we need to in order to do our business,” Sutherland explained. “My second objective is to have my new employees come down and learn what Camp Pendleton is all about because we support the activities here.”

The third objective was to conduct face-to-face office visits with Commonwealth ChalleNGe, the 203rd RED HORSE and the Camp Pendleton staff. “That way they can meet people face-to-face, work out any issues and have good discussion,” Sutherland said.

The last objective was to conduct team building among the employees, including a barbecue cookout at SMR.

For a couple of recent DMA hires, the exercise provided valuable experience.

“Now I understand a lot more of what they’re talking about when they discuss Camp Pendleton,” said Tracey Fisher, an accounts payable technician who began working in her position in February.

“We get to actually see where the money goes,” said Nikia Jones, another accounts payable technician who began in February. “The first day we had to get the kinks worked out but things went smoothly after that.”

After 35 years of performing state active duty on the military side, Tim White, a human resources trainer for the Virginia Department of Military Affairs, explained he understands the importance of the DMA personnel involvement.

“Now as a DMA employee, this COOP exercise demonstrated to me the need for this challenge for the DMA state worker to be mobile and ready to support SAD without disrupting the flow of supplies and assistance to the Virginia National Guard,” he said.

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