Tuesday, February 19, 2008

New defense force battalion will start

New defense force battalion will start
Staff Reports

The Virginia Defense Force's 3rd Brigade will activate another battalion to serve in the Staunton, Charlottesville, Lexington and Clifton Forge areas. The strength increase could mean as many as 150 new state troops available in the region during times of emergency.

In recent years, the VaDF has increasingly conducted missions to augment these areas' local resources, including providing search and rescue services, less-than-lethal security at community events and supporting the Virginia National Guard in these areas. As the need to support these area increases, senior VaDF officers have reorganized to better serve the region. The VaDF also has focused it operations on natural and man-made disasters, including limited activation of support personnel during Hurricane Katrina.


The new battalion will report to Brigade Commander Col. Bo Christensen and will be headquartered in the Thomas D. Howie Memorial Armory in Staunton, with companies in the Charlottesville, Lexington and Covington armories.

The new unit is designated the 13th Battalion and will be activated Feb. 24 during an annual brigade "dining-in" ceremony. The battalion will become operational next month and should reach its full strength within the calendar year.

Major Columbus Cartwright of Lexington will command the unit. Cartwright is a graduate of Virginia Military Institute. Command Sgt. Major Michael Wilson, a retired master sergeant from the Army Reserve, will be the battalion's senior non-commissioned officer.

Many of the troops in the new battalion will be transferred from other units within the defense force. However, significant efforts will be made to recruit local troops to bolster the ranks of the all-volunteer force. Because of their knowledge of geography and local community ties, recruiting local troops will ensure a huge operational advantage.

The new battalion will give many veterans in the area a chance to return to service. For those who have never served in the military, the battalion offers a local opportunity to learn military skills and serve in a military setting without the possibility of being deployed overseas or serving in combat. Troops can be between the ages of 16 and 65 who are legal residents of Virginia.

For more information, (646) 595 8691 or (703) 237 1716.

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