Oct. 13, 2011

VDF participates in State Managed Shelter Exercise

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

PETERSBURG, Va.— Members of the Virginia Defense Force, a branch of the Virginia Department of Military Affairs assisted Virginia State Police in their new role as Shelter Augmentation Liaison Teams during the 2011 State Managed Shelter Exercise Oct. 11 on the campus of Richard Bland College near Petersburg. The three-man team, known as a SALT, will act as subject matter experts for the DMA at each shelter before turning the mission over to the National Guard in the event of an emergency.

Members of the Virginia Defense Force, Shelter Augmentation Liaison Team provide assistance to the Virginia State Police during the 2011 State Managed Shelter Exercise Oct. 11 on the campus of Richard Bland College near Petersburg. The members of the SALT will serve as liaisons between the VSP and the Virginia Department of Military Affairs, as well as faciliate the introduction of Virginia National Guard forces at State Managed Shelters in the event of an actual activation of shelters. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

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“The SALTs from the VDF, having attended this exercise, are going to know what the traffic control plans are going to be and what the security plan is going to be,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Alan Grandis, command sergeant major of the VDF Military Police Battalion. “They are going to know where you are supposed to eat, where you are supposed to sleep, where the latrines are, so when the shelters are set up, the SALTs are going to dispatch quickly to the shelter and link up with the State Police to receive the mission plan.”

After the SALT has received the mission, the VDF will then brief the Virginia National Guard officer-in-charge on the traffic and security mission the Guard Soldiers or Airmen will be executing upon their arrival to assist the State Troopers.

“Department of Military Affairs’ mission in this whole scheme of things is to support the VSP in traffic control and unarmed shelter security,” said Grandis.

The VDF sent three MPs to the exercise to perform their role as the SALT in addition to three members to act as the National Guard personnel to turn the mission over to. The VDF also had three observers on hand to watch and analyze the SALT during the exercise, and one member to serve as the VDF coordinator assisting the VSP incident commander in the emergency operations center on site.

“Hopefully, we can learn how the agencies will interoperate and build a partnership with the State Police and the Department of Social Services so we can be called when needed,” said Staff Sgt. Edwood Corker, SALT noncommissioned officer-in-charge. “This gives us a chance to show that we are capable of doing what the commonwealth needs us to; we are here to support the commonwealth and its needs.”

In the event of the activation of State Managed Shelters, the VDF teams will provide support to four shelters in the region. They will provide a SALT at the shelter at Richard Bland College, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia State University, and in Doswell at Meadow Event Park.

The SMSP is the commonwealth’s response to catastrophic events such as Hurricane Katrina developed to be an all-hazard capability, and is a commonwealth effort lead by Virginia Department of Social Services in coordination with the VSP, Virginia Department of Emergency Management, Virginia Department of Health, Virginia State Colleges and Universities, and many other organizations.

The exercise at Richard Bland College was a homeland Security Exercise Evaluation Program and therefore met all Department of Homeland Security exercise requirements. The exercise was developed to test command and general staff (policies, protocol and procedures), dormitory set-up, and hospitality, dormitory and security protocol and procedures.

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