April 9, 2009

Virginia Defense Force conducts civil disturbance training

By 2nd Lt. Henry C. Howells, IV
Virginia Defense Force Public Affairs

PETERSBURG, Va. — The Virginia Defense Force’s Military Police Company conducted a field training exercise April 3-5 at the Petersburg Armory to hone their skills in handling civil disturbances. The company, bivouacked in the armory for the weekend, was conducting one of its two annual weekend training exercises. The training included use of the riot baton and formations for civil disturbance. 1st Lt.  Jim Stanley, company commander, said these exercises provide, “a realistic training experience while building camaraderie, which is important for a team that could be operating in stressful situations.”

  Virginia Defense Force

Members of the Virginia Defense Force practice riot control techniques during a a field training exercise April 3-5 at the Petersburg Armory. (Photo by 2nd Lt. Henry C. Howells, IV, Virginia Defense Force Public Affairs)

The VDF’s Military Police is gearing up to move to battalion strength with its new commander, Maj. Jim Head. The targeted expansion includes three companies, Northern Metro (Fredericksburg), Southern Metro (Petersburg) and Western Metro (Powhatan).  New additions to the battalion include a contingent on JROTC personnel from Patrick Henry High School in Hanover County who were training with the MP Company.

One such member,  Pfc. Ezra Marsh, 17, who plans to attend North Georgia State University and enter their ROTC program, said, “I want to expand my learning, gain experience and I know it will help later if I enter the military.”  

The VDF’s commanding general, Maj. Gen. John Taylor, attended the exercise and reiterated to the troops the need for continued recruitment, but emphasized that “retention of good personnel is hard and that is why we do this training. People volunteer to provide a service to the commonwealth and this is the VDF’s investment in our people.”
The Salvation Army took the opportunity to jointly train with the VDF by providing food service for the force. Ben Pennington of the Richmond Area Command “wants to develop relationships with other emergency service responders.” Supporting the VDF during this exercise gave the Salvation Army volunteers an opportunity to practice their role in ‘mass feeding.’

The Virginia Defense Force is the commonwealth's military reserve. The force is governed by the military laws of Virginia and managed by the Virginia Department of Military Affairs. It presently has 950 volunteers to support the citizens of the commonwealth.

Further information about the VDF may be found on its website:  www.vdf.virginia.gov, or by contacting division headquarters at the Virginia National Guard armory, 500 Dove Street, Richmond, Virginia 23222; local: 804-228-7018; toll free: 866-791-9164.

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