By Capt. Dayna Rowden
SANDSTON, Va.– In the dining hall of the Air Guard Facility in Sandston, Va., the heads of Virginia’s safety agencies looked curiously at the brown, plastic packages sitting on the table in front of them. At the monthly Public Safety Agency Heads Meeting held on March 6, Maj. Gen. Robert Newman highlighted the Department of Military Affairs’ (DMA) capabilities in its role in Virginia Public Safety and introduced the agency heads to Meals Ready to Eat (MREs).
Secretary of Public Safety John W. Marshall, eating steak with mushrooms, was an experienced MRE eater from his days with the Virginia State Police and U.S. Marshals Service. For the other MRE novices, Capt. Jenny Martin of the 192nd Flight Wing demonstrated the “correct way” to eat an MRE. This caused some laughter and awkward moments of opening the heater pack.
In addition to exhibiting the culinary diversity of the MREs, Newman presented to the agency heads the DMA’s vision for 2007 – “The Commonwealth’s Guardian – A transformed joint team, fully prepared to answer every call to duty from the Commonwealth and Nation.”
The DMA’s goals and objectives focuses on four interrelated domains – preparedness, Guardsmen, leader development, and transformation.
Newman stressed that though last year the “mindset was almost solely federal and National Guard centric,” the Virginia DMA is beginning to stress focus on its mission regarding the security and safety of the Commonwealth. The new state mission will be to “assist civil authorities in the protecting life, property, preserving peace and relieving suffering.”
To highlight the new focus of the DMA, Newman led the agency heads on a tour of the Air Guard Facility hangar in order to view displays that represented DMA’s commitment to the safety of the Commonwealth.
The Virginia Defense Force, the Civil Support Team, Air and Army Guard Recruiters, the Reconnaissance and Interdiction Detachment, as well as many other units from across Virginia, proudly displayed their equipment, ranging from an F-16 to sniper rifles.
The meeting and presentation was a huge success for the DMA. The agency heads were impressed with the Air and Army National Guard’s ability to ensure the safety of the Commonwealth and left with a new appreciation for MRE.
The biggest question of the day, “How many different flavors of MREs are there?” The answer – 46, but it all tastes like chicken.