Aug. 26, 2011

Virginia DMA conducts state-wide communication exercise

By Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen  
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

SANDSTON, Va. The Virginia Department of Military Affairs tested its tactical communications abilities during a state-wide communication exercise, or COMEX, Aug. 20 at armories across the commonwealth of Virginia. Members of the Virginia Defense Force teamed with Soldiers of the Virginia Army National Guard to test their ability to communicate with and support the Virginia National Guard with communication support in the event of an emergency.

 

Members of the Virginia Defense Force in Hampton exercise their communication abilities as part of a state-wide communications exercise Aug. 20. VDF members converged at armories across the state to test their ability to communicate with and support the Virginia National Guard with communication support in the event of an emergency. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Click HERE to see more photos on Flickr.

From Gate City to Norfolk and from Winchester to Danville, Soldiers and VDF Incident Management Assistance Team members tested the capabilities of nine TAC-PAKs in eight armories during the exercise. The IMAT focused on making sure the TAC-PAKs were fully functional and able to exercise the six modes of communication the TAC-PAKs are capable of providing.

“We’re here to exercise our communication assets and show that we can be an integral part of the Virginia National Guard team,” said VDF Warrant Officer Fred Calvert, communications technician. “It’s an opportunity for us to continue to make sure our equipment is ready to support the Virginia Guard.

“This is a team-building exercise for us. The more opportunities we have to come together as a team, the better we will be as a team. We learn to rely on one another; this gives us that unit cohesion and we get to build upon that,” he said.

 

Members of the Virginia Defense Force and Virginia National Guard exercise their communication abilities as part of a state-wide communications exercise Aug. 20. VDF members converged at armories across the state to test their ability to communicate with and support the Virginia National Guard with communication support in the event of an emergency. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Click HERE to see more photos on Flickr.

According to Army Chief Warrant Officer Christopher Johnson, the communications exercise tested and validated equipment capabilities and personnel training. He also noted that the exercise tested the two Joint Incident Site Communications Capability platforms, a Virginia National Guard communication asset.

“Overall, it was a success,” Johnson said. “As expected, we had a few challenges, but generally the exercise has been effective. We have done this a ¬†few times ... this is the first time we had all our TAC-PAKs issued out around the state and had the VDF IMAT teams recording the data and report it back.”

The VDF performed their role of setting up the equipment and making sure the Virginia Guard units were able to communicate with one another from their various locations across the state and insuring the units on the ground could communicate successfully with one another.

“My personal goal is to get the TAK-PAK up, connecting to WebEOC and communicating with other units and having the people in our unit see how that works,” said VDF 1st Lt. David Christhilf, officer in charge of the exercise. “If we can do that, it is great. The point is to get more people exposed to the TAC-PAK, it is good to have it right there and we have access to it and we’re using it. When we go to class it’s just familiarization but it’s a lot different when you have it up and are using it.”

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