Dec. 2, 2011
Virginia Guard reaction force one of 15 states to achieve readiness goals
By Cotton Puryear
Virginia Department of Military Affairs
SANDSTON, Va. — The Virginia National Guard is one of 15 states to achieve all the readiness training and certification goals set by National Guard Bureau for National Guard Reaction Forces. In a letter dated Nov. 14, NGB informed the Virginia Guard that it had demonstrated it was fully trained and ready to perform the mission essential tasks expected of a National Guard Response Force.
Soldiers from the Lynchburg-based 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Brigade Combat Team conduct live fire training with the M320 40mm grenade launcher using less-than-lethal munitions during their drill weekend at Fort Pickett Nov. 19. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia Department of Military Affairs)
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“The Governor and the citizens of Commonwealth expect the Virginia Guard to rapidly respond and provide support to state and local authorities during a crisis,” said Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia. “Meeting the training and certification goals for our reaction force is an important step in our effort to train and maintain a ready, relevant and rapidly responding force to meet the expectations of our citizens and the nation.”
The Lynchburg-based 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Brigade Combat Team has the assigned mission as Virginia’s NGRF and is referred to as the Incident Response Force.
“Your state NGRF has shown itself fully capable of performing the five mission essential tasks required to obtain your Adjutant General’s certification,” wrote Maj. Gen. David L. Harris, director of domestic operations and force develop for NGB in a letter dated Nov. 14. “As of November 10, 2011, your State NGRF is one of only fifteen currently rated as green, which is a laudable accomplishment.”
According to the NGB Implementation Plan for NGRF, the original concept for the force was to focus on response to terrorists threats but is now training and preparing to be an all-hazard response force that can fulfill a number of different roles in a state response situation.
A state NGRF must perform five mission essential tasks: assemble forces, deploy, communicate, provide security and support civil authorities.
The NGRF must respond quickly to a no-notice event.
“We have to able to be out the door with a quick reaction force within 8 hours of notification,” explained Lt. Col. Allan Carter, commander of 1st Battalion and the IRF. The main body of the response force has to respond in 24 hours.
The response force must be able to conduct movement in order to deploy to the incident area and communicate with the higher headquarters in the Guard as well as with state and local agencies as necessary.
The security mission for the NGRF potential comes in a number of different forms. “In the event of a natural disaster type event, we could provide security to a community that has lost power or to a critical site or infrastructure location,” Carter said. “We might also establish pedestrian or vehicle entry control points if a particular area needed to be secured.”
In the case of a nuclear, biological or chemical hazard situation, the IRF may provide force protection or security for the Virginia Guard’s 34th Civil Support or the Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear High Yield Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package, he said.
Soldiers from 1st Battalion conducted training on response force-related individual skills during their drill weekend at Fort Pickett Nov. 19 - 20. As part of the training, Soldiers conducted live fire with the M320 40mm grenade launcher using less-than-lethal munitions.
“We have to be prepared to provide security and assist local authorities in any type of situation from a peaceful situation to one that is more hostile,” Carter said. In those situations, the Soldiers have very strict guidelines for the use of force, but it is important that Soldiers be trained on the proper use of the less-than-lethal munitions in addition to their normal weapons training for their federal mission.
The battalion will build on the individual skills training in November and work to prepare for squad and platoon lanes in March and April 2012.
Incident Response Force better prepared after annual training
Special Virginia Guard response forces train with local, state and federal partner agencies