Maryland Defense Force Announces Record Year of Accomplishments in 2007
Lt. Col. (MD) Robert Hastings
Maryland Defense Force
BALTIMORE (January 30, 2008) – The Maryland Defense Force (MDDF) closed out 2007 with a record year of accomplishments, providing more than 24,000 man hours of volunteer military service in support of the Maryland National Guard (MDNG) and state agencies.
"The achievements of the Maryland Defense Force this year reflect the dedication and professionalism of its volunteers who are committed to the safety and security of the citizens of Maryland through our support of the Maryland National Guard," said Brig. Gen. Courtney Wilson, MDDF Commanding General. "I’m proud of each member of this command, and extend my appreciation to them and to their families and employers who continue to support them throughout the year."
The MDDF began the year by supporting the inauguration of Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley in Annapolis, providing escorts for VIPs, manning first aid stations and providing communications and crowd management.
Throughout March and April, MDDF engineers surveyed 23 MDNG facilities and armories across the state. The engineers contributed approximately 450 man hours of effort and drove hundreds of miles across the state to assess facilities from the Baker Training Area in the mountains of Western Maryland to the Salisbury Armory on the Eastern Shore.
In July, MDDF medical professionals deployed with the Maryland Air National Guard’s (MDANG) 175th Medical Group on a medical humanitarian mission to the Indian Health Service hospital on the Rosebud Lakota Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. The combined MDANG-MDDF team treated more than 4,000 patients while providing personnel in both units the opportunity to practice interoperability and to exercise their professional skills in a challenging remote environment similar to what might be encountered during a civil emergency.
In what represented the first ever participation by the MDDF in a homeland security role, MDDF personnel joined the MDNG for Exercise Vigilant Guard, a major homeland security/terrorist response exercise held in early September. MDDF personnel from the medical, legal, chaplain, operations, communications, and public affairs mission oriented units supported both the Command Post Exercise and the field training events.
Cavalry Troop A, the MDDF mounted ceremonial unit, represented the Maryland Military Department at a number of highly visible public events and parades across the state, while continuing to train to it’s secondary mission of providing mounted urban search & rescue. In June, Troop A qualified 11 riders to the 1926 U.S. Army saber qualification course as an exercise to instill rider confidence and esprit.
MDDF medical personnel continued to support the Post Deployment Health Reassessment Program (PDHRA) by screening more than 900 MDNG airmen and soldiers redeploying from overseas operations this past year. More than 30 MDDF medical and mental health personnel have been trained to perform these in-depth evaluations so that MDNG soldiers can obtain further medical treatment and support as required.
Chaplains from the MDDF have been fully integrated into the MDNG Chaplain’s Corps and have provided a broad range of support throughout the year including spiritual counseling during unit training, deployment and redeployment activities, counseling for families of deployed Guardsmen, and post deployment stress counseling. MDDF chaplains are assigned and have primary spiritual responsibility for supporting the MDNG’s 70th Training Regiment at Camp Fretterd Military Reservation.
MDDF joined the MDNG and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) in an ongoing initiative to increase efficiency in the utilization of Maryland’s aviation assets and the control of airspace in the event of emergencies that involve extraordinary flight activity, such as a total closure of airspace like that which occurred following 9/11 to lesser contingencies and activities involving aviation assets.
MDDF volunteers screened potential candidates and assisted with induction activities for the Freestate ChalleNGe Academy, a MDNG sponsored program which provides at-risk youth an opportunity to reclaim their lives by developing values, skills, education and self-discipline necessary to succeed as adults.
MDDF financial and legal assistance teams continued to provide extensive pro-bono financial and legal counseling and assistance to members of the MDNG, providing support in particular to those deploying and their families.
In November, the MDDF celebrated the opening of a new headquarters in the historic Merson Building at the Pikesville Military Reservation. MDDF personnel contributed more than 1,600 volunteer man-hours to the self-service renovation project which restored the building to a high state of serviceability and functionality.
The Maryland Defense Force is one of a number of State Defense Forces authorized by the U.S. Congress under Title 32 and the respective state legislatures. While specific missions vary from state to state, State Defense Forces exist primarily to augment the capabilities of the National Guard. Employing volunteers who bring military experience and/or civilian professional skills, they supplement the capabilities of the National Guard, assist in National Guard mobilization for federal service, replace National Guard assets deployed out-of-state, and support state homeland security missions. State Defense Forces operate under the command of the Governor, as state Commander-in-Chief, and fall under the operational control of the state Adjutant General’s office. State Defense Forces receive no federal funds and are supported entirely by the state.
Headquartered at the Pikesville Military Reservation in Baltimore, the Maryland Defense Force is a volunteer uniformed state military agency organized under the Maryland Military Department. Formally established by the Maryland legislature in 1917, the unit's heritage and traditions trace back to the 17th century. Its mission is to provide competent supplemental professional and technical support to the Maryland Military Department and the Maryland National Guard.
For further information about the Maryland Defense Force, visit www.mddefenseforce.org.