FORT PICKETT, Va. –
Members of the all-volunteer Virginia Defense Force conducted communications, security operations and classroom training August 5-7, 2022, at Fort Pickett, Virginia, during a Multi-day Unit Training Assembly. Personnel participated in security training focused on traffic control and communications training in the VDF’s Mobile Communication Platforms. Classroom training covered a variety of topics including operations center augmentation and first aid.
It was the first time since March 2020 the VDF conducted a large scale in person multi-day training event.
“This is our first time back together at Fort Pickett in two and half years, and our priority is getting back to basics,” Brig. Gen. (Va.) Justin P. Carlitti Sr., the VDF commanding general, said to the group gathered in formation at the end of the weekend.
“All the skills we have been practicing we are going to continue to reinforce, and based on our conversations with the Adjutant General, we will also look at possible new missions,” Carlitti said. “The VDF is a vibrant organization, and we are going to make it even more dynamic, more alive, and it all because of the volunteers who continue to serve their fellow Virginians.”
Carlitti also stressed the importance of officer and noncommissioned officer leadership at the company level.
“The senior leaders can make all kinds of plans, but at the end of the day, it is the company leaders who execute,” he said. “What you do every single day is important, and it is important for the rest of the commonwealth.”
One of the new initiatives during the MUTA was the Support Operations Group “beta testing” its Training Services with the mission of providing training support to the entire VDF.
“While selected SOG Recruiting and Retention Battalion personnel and TS instructors conducted monthly recruiting orientation and Initial Entry Training at Waller Depot, other TS instructors ran the Guard and Traffic Direction classes at MUTA for other VDF members,” explained Col. (Va.) Donald J. Thornley, commander of the Support Operations Group. “Additionally, the SOG Chaplain Services provided mental health training, the Medical Services taught first aid and other SOG personnel joined a 1st Regiment instructor to run the Battle Captains Course for G3 Operations Section.”
According to 1st Lt. Michael Perini, the training officer in charge in the G3 Operations Section, approximately 40 troops completed CSS Interior/Exterior Guard and Traffic Control training. This was the first time that CSS was taught at a MUTA since SEP 2019.
“While there were learning experiences to be gained, this was a good showing to exercise some old muscle memory in terms of instruction and action,” Perini said.
Approximately 30 troops participated in Battle Captains Class, he said. This was the first time the class was taught, and it is intended to educate VDF troops on the role and function of the battle captain in response operations to help prepare them for possible duty in a Virginia National Guard operations center during state active duty.
Members of the VDF also conducted an administrative exercise to help assess the Emergency Response Management System currently being evaluated by the Virginia Department of Military Affairs. The web-based system facilitates personnel administrative actions for state active duty missions.
Personnel assigned to the VDF’s 11th Signal Battalion,1st Regiment deployed all four mobile communication platforms to Fort Pickett to conduct maintenance checks and test their radio systems in a location different from their home stations.
The VDF MCP is a 7 1/2 feet by 16 feet trailer equipped with multiple radio systems for voice and data communications. 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.
The VDF is authorized by Title 44 of the Code of the Virginia as the all-volunteer reserve of the Virginia National Guard, and it serves as a force multiplier integrated into all Guard domestic operations. 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. Members of the VDF volunteer their time for training and are only paid when called to duty by an authorization from the Governor of Virginia.