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NEWS | Dec. 18, 2023

Virginia National Guard 2023 Year in Review

Virginia National Guard Public Affairs

The Virginia National Guard had another busy year in 2023 balancing the demands of both its state and federal missions.

After a historic pace of mobilizations came to an end in 2022, Soldiers from multiple units received the Governor’s National Service Medal in recognition for the federal active duty service. Ceremonies in January recognized troops providing unmanned aircraft system support on the Southwest Border and a security force for Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa. In February, Soldiers were recognized for aviation operations for the peace support mission in Kosovo. In March, engineers received the medals to recognize their support to U.S. Central Command’s Operation Spartan Shield in Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and Soldiers were also recognized for serving as the mission command headquarters for NATO Kosovo Force Regional Command-East. Read more about the GNSM presentations at

The Virginia National Guard’s Fort Pickett was officially redesignated Fort Barfoot in honor of Col. Van T. Barfoot, a World War II Medal of Honor recipient with extensive Virginia ties, during a ceremony in March at the Blackstone Army Airfield near Blackstone, Virginia. The post was one of nine U.S. Army installations being redesignated based on the Naming Commission’s recommendations to remove the names, symbols, displays, monuments, and paraphernalia that honor or commemorate the Confederate States of America. Of the nine, it is the only Army National Guard installation being redesignated. Read more about the redesignation at

Multiple Virginia Army and Air National Guard units conducted training out of state and overseas in 2023. Soldiers assigned to the Blackstone-based 3647th Maintenance Company, 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group provided maintenance support to the Joint Multinational Readiness Center during an exercise in March in Hohenfels, Germany, and again in September. More than 30 Soldiers assigned to the Gate City-based Headquarters Detachment, 1030th Transportation Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group traveled to Camp Humphreys, Korea, to participate in Ulchi Freedom Shield in August where they provided command and control to notional subordinate transportation companies to provide area sustainment support to maneuver elements. The VaANG’s 192nd Medical Group, 192nd Wing, sent 17 members to California to complete their Medical Facility Annual Training in August at Naval Medical Center San Diego.

The VNG continued to strengthen its partnership with Finland through the year. More than 60 VNG Soldiers traveled to Finland to participate in Arctic Forge 23 in February and March where they trained with more than 500 Finnish forces and alongside elements of the 11th Airborne Division and the 10th Mountain Division. During the exercise, the VNG Soldiers learned the basics of operating in an Arctic environment, including how to ski, drawing on the Finnish forces’ cold climate expertise. Finnish Air Force pilots toured the 192nd Wing with pilots from the 149th Fighter Squadron in May at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia. VNG leaders traveled to Finland to observe a Local Defense Exercise in September to learn about Finland’s tactics, techniques, and procedures related to civil disturbance, rescue operations and local civilian and Army relationships.  Three VNG Soldiers competed in HÄYHÄ 2023, a Finnish Sniper Championship, in August. Read more about the VNG’s enduring partnership with Finland at

Several VNG units received regional- and national-level recognition for mission execution and operational readiness. The Chesterfield-based Detachment 1, Charlie Company, 2-245th Aviation Regiment was named the Army National Guard East Region Unit of the Year for Fiscal Year 2022. The Virginia Beach-based 576th Engineer Utilities Detachment, 276th Engineer Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group, received the 2022 Itschner Award as the most outstanding U.S. Army engineer company in the Army National Guard from the Society of American Military Engineers, and they are the first VaARNG unit to win this award. The Fort Barfoot Ammunition Supply Point scored a 93 percent during an inspection that placed it among the highest-rated Army ASPs across the globe.

The Virginia National Guard celebrated its 416th birthday in May with a ceremonial cake cutting at the Sergeant Bob Slaughter Headquarters at Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia.  Retired Maj. Gen. Craig Crenshaw, Virginia Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs, presented the Governor of Virginia's 416th Birthday of the Virginia National Guard proclamation. Read about the celebration and the proclamation at

The VNG welcomed a new leader when Brig. Gen. James W. Ring took command as the Adjutant General of Virginia from Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams and was promoted to major general during a ceremony in June at the VNG Sergeant Bob Slaughter Headquarters at Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia. Read more about the change of command at

The VNG continued to build it’s cyber network defense capabilities as it hosted Cyber Fortress 2.0 in July at the State Military Reservation in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The exercise brought together VNG Soldiers and Airmen along with state and federal organizations who will respond in a real-world cyber incident and provided an opportunity to test Virginia’s cyber response plan and better prepare for future collective responses. Read more at

VNG Soldiers and Airmen deployed as Task Force Cardinal returned to Virginia early August after supporting Operation Lone Star in Texas for approximately 30 days. The troops staffed observation posts and conducted roving patrols along the border between Texas and Mexico to observe and detect potential illegal border crossings and criminal activities and reported to Texas law enforcement authorities. Read more at

The VNG staged approximately 35 Soldiers with tactical trucks capable of high water transportation in September at VNG facilities in the Hampton Roads area in order to support the response to impacts of Tropical Storm Ophelia. VNG personnel were ready to conduct missions and linked up with local emergency managers to provide assistance if needed. Read more at

The Virginia Beach-based 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group conducted Joint Readiness Training Center rotation 23-8.05 in July and early August at Fort Johnson, Louisiana in support of the Hawaii Army National Guard’s 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. The rotation also helped prepare the 529th for the upcoming federal active duty deployment to Poland in January 2024. The troops will serve under the command of U.S. Army’s 3rd Division Sustainment Brigade to provide sustainment command and control and support to forward-stationed U.S. and allied forces in the region. Read more about the 529th at

The Virginia National Guard’s Fort Barfoot-based 34th Civil Support Team was evaluated as trained and mission capable after a Training Proficiency Evaluation in October in Dinwiddie County, Virginia. The evaluation was conducted by U.S. Army North, which supervised the exercise and validated the unit’s level of readiness to support civil authorities in a domestic chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive incident. Read more about at

Members of the Virginia General Assembly presented House Joint Resolution No. 673 commending the 20th anniversary of Virginia National Guard’s State Partnership Program with the Republic of Tajikistan in September in Richmond, Virginia. Throughout the year, VNG Soldiers and Airmen conducted exchanges in Tajikistan focused on marksmanship skills, mountain warfare, civil engineering, logistics and professional development, border checkpoint security, combat casualty care and advanced infantry tactics. Read more about the partnership with Tajikistan at

The VNG provided aerial and ground fire suppression support to the Virginia Department of Forestry as they battled wildfires at multiple locations across the state in November. Approximately 30 VNG Soldiers and Airmen assisted with mop up operations at the Quaker Run Fire in Madison County. After Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin declared a state of emergency, aviation crews deployed to Madison County with two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters equipped with 660-gallon water buckets and made 33 drops of nearly 22,800 gallons of water, and they also flew missions in Patrick County where they made a total of 21 drops of nearly 13,900 gallons of water. Read more at

The VaANG’s 185th Cyberspace Operations Squadron, 192nd Operations Group, 192nd Wing, held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the grand opening of its state-of-the-art cyberspace facility in early December at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Hampton, Virginia. This milestone begins a new chapter for the history of the 185th COS, also known as "the Bats," and marks the 192nd Wing’s first purposefully built building since its move from Sandston to Langley in 2007.

The Virginia Defense Force had a busy year in 2023 supporting Virginia National Guard domestic response operations and VDF personnel volunteering their time to assisting with multiple events across the state. The VDF also conducted numerous training events in order to improve skills, develop leaders and maintain a high state of readiness. Read more at

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