VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. –
Lt. Col. Emily Huffman succeeded Lt. Col. Christopher Dunn as the commander of the Virginia National Guard’s State Military Reservation in Virginia Beach, Virginia, during a ceremony Dec. 16, 2022. Col. James C. Shaver Jr., Maneuver Training Center Fort Pickett garrison commander, presided over the change of command ceremony and the exchange of organizational colors signifying the transfer of command from Dunn to Huffman.
“We fight as a joint force, we deter as a joint force, and we prepare as a joint force,” Shaver said. “This is evident right here on SMR with the range of organizations that utilize the installation for training and other activities. This is truly a venue that supports all domain operations.”
SMR was originally the state rifle range, laid out in 1911 with construction beginning in 1912. It supported a variety of training during World War I and World War II, and it now serves as a training area for National Guard units as well as other nearby active duty and reserve component military and public safety organizations.
More than 20 full-time state and federal employees provide support to tenant organizations and training at the state-owned, 328-acre installation with facilities including live-fire ranges, an array of virtual trainers, wooded training areas, administrative, classroom and conference buildings, dining facilities, distance learning center, chapel, helipad, land navigation course, airfield damage repair site, beach and amphibious landing site as well as barracks and visitor quarters.
The installation and its staff have hosted a variety of community events including marathons and club events as well as competitions for law enforcement, fire and rescue organizations.
SMR falls under the mission command of Maneuver Training Center Fort Pickett near Blackstone, Virginia.
Shaver commended Dunn for his leadership and the wide range of infrastructure improvements and environment stewardship.
“You’ve been the glue down here at SMR leading your team and getting great things accomplished,” Shaver said. “I thank you for your hard work and accomplishments, and the professionalism you displayed in this second command as a lieutenant colonel.”
Dunn explained how his team adopted a trident as a symbol for SMR’s mission right after he took command, saying it represented the four critical pieces to accomplish their goals.
He said the trident shaft represented the training mission that is the primary focus for the installation with the three tines of the trident representing the people, place and community drawing units and partners to train at SMR.
He recognized the military and civilian staff from operations, buildings and grounds and billeting sections for their outstanding work.
“These are the people who make this place successful, day in and day out,” Dunn said. “Thank you, team, for making my job easy and a source of great pride.”
Dunn also thanked their partners with the City of Virginia Beach, Naval Air Station-Oceana and Dam Neck Annex, legislative partners at the federal, state and local level and community partners in the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, the Virginia Beach District and the Hampton Roads Military Advisory Council.
“Just as critical to our success are our external partners that make enormous contributions to the environment and conditions that we enjoy at SMR,” he said.
Shaver recognized Huffman as the first Air National Guard officer to command SMR.
“Emily brings fresh perspective and naturally a different approach,” he said. “I am excited for the energy she’s already shown, the positive outlook for the future and digging right in to get to work.”
He said his challenge to her is to leverage her existing relationships, bring in more customers and expand the joint, interagency, intergovernmental and multinational training opportunities on the post.
"I'm humbled and overwhelmed with gratitude to have been selected to lead this vital training installation,” Huffman said. “I’d like to thank Maj. Gen. Williams for entrusting me with moving SMR forward with a shared vision for what this Installation can offer military members, the Virginia National Guard, local and state first responders, and surrounding communities.”
Huffman also thanked Dunn for the foundation he provided and for the team he built and said she was excited to work with Shaver.
Dunn now serves as the deputy joint operations officer on the Virginia National Guard joint staff, and Huffman most recently served as the deputy commander of the Virginia Air National Guard’s 192nd Mission Support Group, 192nd Wing at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Hampton, Virginia.
SMR is also home to the Commonwealth ChalleNGe Youth Academy and multiple Virginia National Guard units including the 329th Regional Support Group, the 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, the 203rd Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers and Virginia Defense Force. It also hosts the Virginia National Guard Family Program’s annual Youth Camp each summer and frequently hosts VNG Military Funeral Honors Program training.
Read more about SMR on va.ng.mil at https://ngpa.us/23161