Oct. 21, 2009

Virginia Guard Soldier relinquishes authority at Joint Warfighting Center

By Maj. Cotton Puryear
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

SUFFOLK, Va. — Col. Edward R. Morgan of the Virginia National Guard relinquished responsibility as the Joint Warfighting Center J-7 Reserve Director to Col. Steven N. Jones in a ceremony held Oct. 3 in Suffolk. The ceremony also marked the end of Morgan’s tour as the officer in charge for almost 40 members of the Virginia Army and Air National Guard assigned to U.S. Joint Forces Command.

  Col. Thomas Morgan

Col. Edward R. Morgan passes the colors of the Joint Warfighting Center J-7 to Brig. Gen. Sanford E. Holman, the vice commander of the Joint Warfighting Center, during the transfer of responsibility ceremony held Oct. 3 in Suffolk. The ceremony also marked the end of Morgan’s tour as the officer in charge for almost 40 members of the Virginia Army and Air National Guard assigned to U.S. Joint Forces Command. (Photo by Maj. Cotton Puryear, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

The Joint Warfighting Center is part of U.S. Joint Forces Command and has the mission to coordinate the U.S. military's overall joint training efforts in an effort to maintain the highest state of readiness and warfighting capability.

At the ceremony, Morgan was recognized for his role in the development and establishment of the Joint Warfighting Center Reserve Component Training and Operational Plan that was “groundbreaking in providing more effective and more relevant Reserve Component support in today’s constantly changing operational environment.”  He was also recognized for his expertise in the implementing the Joint Reserve Components Academic Training Seminars training platform and for authoring the first Joint Urban Operations training strategy. He also developed and exercise plans for Joint Counter Improvised Explosive Device exercises.  

Morgan was selected for the J7 reserve director assignment as a separate duty position in addition to his duties the OIC of the Virginia Guard Soldiers assigned to JFCOM. He was selected by Brig. Gen. Sanford E. Holman, the vice commander of the Joint Warfighting Center, from a pool of approximately 100 Guard and Reserve colonels assigned to JFCOM. The reserve director leads the reserve organization located at JWFC, which consists of about 130 members from the reserve components of the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard. The position is a true joint assignment and is one of a very few positions where a Virginia Guard officer is charged with the responsibility of supervising members from the various branches of service.

According to its web site, the JWFC works with a broad range of partners to support joint warfighter development, including the Office of Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the services, unified commands, as well as interagency and multinational partners. The command provides highly realistic training within a joint context, revises the content and execution of training through adoption of lessons learned and best practices, and develops advanced technologies in conjunction with operational exercises.

Since 2003, JWFC has conducted over 20 mission rehearsals and more than a dozen staff assistance visits to prepare joint leaders and their staffs as they deploy around the globe.

The Virginia Guard Soldiers and Airmen assigned to JFCOM serve in a variety of positions where they play an active role in the execution of joint training exercises. Most of the personnel assigned to JFCOM are senior officers and noncommissioned officers, and the majority serve in the JWFC. Several have served in the Joint Task Force Civil Support and two military intelligence officers currently serve at Langley Air Force Base in Air Combat Command.

After commanding 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, Lt. Col. Lapthe C. Flora spent 17 months assigned to JTF-CS where he served as a battle watch captain and joint operations center chief. His duties included working in the joint operations center for four different joint training exercises including Vibrant Response and Vigilant Shield. Flora said he traveled all over the country to assist with exercises, as well as conducting certifications for the active duty brigade headquarters assigned to a civil support mission.

In addition to the training mission, Flora said he could have also been activated to serve with the JTF-CS in the event of a real world incident

Flora said his experience with JTF-CS has given him a much better understanding of what federal resources are available in the event of an incident that exceeded Virginia's ability to respond.

"This has been a great learning experience, and I recommend it to anyone working in the operations arena," Flora said.

Another benefit of serving at JFCOM is networking and making contacts with subject matter experts from a wide range of disciplines. Lt. Col. David Bennett of the Virginia Air National Guard served at JFCOM, and the contacts he made there have been invaluable in his current position as the joint staff communications officer for the Virginia Guard. “When we were putting together the state incident response communication plan, I was able to reach out to contacts I made at JFCOM, and they provided crucial input for the plan we have in place now,” Bennett said.

“In order to gain practical experience in joint operations, there is no better training ground than Joint Forces Command,” said Maj. Gen. Robert B. Newman, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia. He said that if the Virginia Guard has to respond to any major natural disaster or homeland security threat, it will do so in a joint environment with other Guard or Reserve military forces as well as active duty forces and as well as multiple state agencies.

Newman said that sending Virginia Guard Soldiers and Airmen to serve a tour of duty in JFCOM pays benefits to Virginia. “When they come back to Virginia, we will have officers and senior noncommissioned officers who are far more experienced in joint operations than when they left,” he said. “That will help us better prepare for possible incidents and help us better execute our plans if we are called upon to assist the citizens of the commonwealth in their time of need.”

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