Kent County Leaders Tour National Guard Facility

New Castle – Earlier this month Members of the Delaware National Guard leadership led by Delaware’s Adjutant General, Major General Francis D. Vavala hosted a breakfast and networking event at the Smyrna Readiness Center. Over 40 participants were offered an information brief and tour. Participants included key business and civic leaders throughout Kent County. Guests were educated on the latest news from the statewide Hometown Force, as well as experienced a hands-on display and capabilities brief.

Maj. Gen. Vavala gave an overview of the Delaware
National Guard, as it relates to the command structure, dual mission, residing units throughout the state, and its constitutionally unique position in the overall Defense Department. Guests were given statistics, dollar figures, and charts to represent the National Guard’s force over the US Army and US Air Force here in the state and across the nation, including their readiness and cost effectiveness based on budgets.

He shared the current military construction projects bringing a positive economic impact to the state’s economy. He touted and passionately exclaimed that the “National Guard is the Nation’s best defense buy”. He went on to describe specifically the Delaware Guard member makeup that boasts 1,700 soldiers/Army Guard, and 1,100 airmen/Air Guard serving, and outlines the last five years of deployments, showing that over 95% of the Guard has deployed overseas, in addition to their state response activations.

He reminded the audience as the intently listened that Guard members are your neighbors, relatives and co-workers and truly twice the citizen and Hometown Force. He outlined the entire military of all service branches serving in Delaware and the differences among them, along with the current missions specifically of the Delaware National Guard. Most notably, the Delaware Guard is preparing for and tasked to send over 400 soldiers and airmen to support the upcomindng-1g Presidential Inauguration Day.

The group was given an overview of the community partnerships and programs the Guard places great value, including their Honorary Commanders program and their signature program, the “War on Hunger” that has collected over 200,000 pounds of non-perishable goods to local Delawareans.

Being truly the Hometown Force, General Vavala committed that you will always find us in your town’s parades, concerts, but most importantly during the time the community needs us for the protection of life, property and public safety.

Mitch Magee of PPG Industries noted that the Guard reflects a future vision of a flexible capability to the decentralized modern challenges of small time hackers and stateless bad guys. He saw a nimble, highly collaborative force that partners with whoever can fulfill a variety of missions whether it is local law enforcement and first responders or a centrally coordinated, global Pentagon driven mission. As a state taxpayer, it is great to see joint forces that leverage assets.

He specifically noted that after witnessing the abilities and specialize operations of the Civil Support Team, he “definitely feels fortunate, proud and safer knowing this capability is in our backyard.”

The event placdng-4ed emphasis on educating the uniqueness of the National Guard, and emphasized the mission of Delaware’s Hometown Force of Soldiers and Airmen which is to protect the lives and property of Delawareans and support the nation during war.

Judy Diogo, President of the Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce was impressed with the visit. She stated “I am so grateful to General Vavala, the leadership and all the men and women of the Delaware National Guard in Kent County for sharing their story. In a word: AWESOME! Awesome people. Awesome skills. Awesome resources. Awesome service to our county and country! If you want to be amazed, go for a visit. You will leave a changed, grateful person! Thank you all for all you do every day to serve and protect all of us!”

The event showcased the Guard’s two resident forces in Smyrna/Kent County, the 31st Civil Support Team (CST) and the 261st Theater Tactical Signal Brigade (TTSB). The 31st CST, also known as the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) unit, maintains the capability to mitigate the consequences of any WMD, all hazards event, whether natural or man-made. They are experts in WMD effects and NBC defense operations. In 2016 to date, the Team has supported 15 missions. The 261st TTSB provides command and control to assigned units by supervising the installation, operation, maintenance and defense of the network to ensure warfighting dominance in any theater of operation. The Brigade’s most recent deployment, post 9-11, occurred in 2013-14, mobilizing 300+ soldiers overseas. Deployments continue to this day. Both units showcased equipment displays and manpower to give an insider’s look of their capabilities.

dng-2Mr. Dave Detrick of Chesapeake Utilities attended and said he was not as familiar with all the Guard’s capabilities. He wished more Delawareans could see the enthusiastic presentation by General Vavala that reviewed the Guard’s structure and missions, so all would be more familiar with the capabilities of the dedicated men and women in the National Guard. He commented that the facility tour showcased some very impressive technology that is ready for rapid deployment in the State to help protect our citizens.

”This was a great opportunity to tell the National Guard story to our neighbors and friends in Kent County,” said Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala, Adjutant General, Delaware National Guard. “Hopefully, everyone in attendance will now have a better understanding and appreciation for all our hometown force does.”

For more information or questions regarding the Delaware National Guard or to be included in future civic leader tours, please contact the Public Affairs office, Lt. Col. Len Gratteri, 302.540.0134.

Source: Delaware National Guard

Image Credits: Delaware National Guard

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First State Update's Delaware editorial team covers New Castle County, Kent County and Sussex County breaking news, political news, and general news stories. We bring the reader the latest news from the Wilmington, Newark, Dover, Rehoboth Beach and all point in between. If you have news to share, email us at

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