Sunday, April 23, 2017

Lt. Gen. (Ret.) H. Steven Blum Keynotes 2017 MDDF Annual Muster

By MAJ (MDDF) Stephen Rice
23 April 2017

On April 22, 2017 the Maryland Defense Force (MDDF) held its Annual Muster at the Fifth Regiment Armory in Baltimore. The Annual Muster is a mandatory all day training activity for all Maryland Defense Force personnel. Company formation and ceremonies commenced at 9 a.m. The keynote speaker for this year’s muster was retired Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum, the former deputy commander, U.S. Northern Command.

Lt. Gen. Blum in his remarks illuminated the historical spirit of the MDDF and shared, “the MDDF is today’s version of the men and women going back to the colonies who volunteered to serve their state in a time of need.” He continued, “in 1814 when citizen soldiers left farms, churches and shops to repel the British invasion of Baltimore, it was people like you who beat the same British soldiers who had defeated Napoleon. It is because of people like you that we are not British citizens and subjugated to a foreign king.”

The general also highlighted the current relevance of the MDDF and stated that, “the MDDF completes the Maryland National Guard. You provide them with capabilities that they do not have which makes you very valuable. This system works well because the state does not have unlimited resources.” In conclusion he shared that, “our citizen-soldier system is the envy of the world. It’s the glue that keeps our nation together. I offer my many thanks for what you do, what you’ve done and what you will do for my grandchildren and their grandchildren in the future.”

Brig. Gen. Timothy E. Gowen, the assistant adjutant general - army also spoke and brought greetings on behalf of Maj. Gen. Linda Singh, the adjutant general of Maryland. He remarked, “The Maryland Military Department appreciates your service and your willingness to change and evolve as an organization in order to continue to support our needs. Let’s continue on this path to better work together and support the State of Maryland. “

In his speech, Brig. Gen. (MDDF) Lorenza Cooper, commanding general of the MDDF, referenced the past but focused on the future. “Although the MDDF has a distinguished history, we are and will continue to go through necessary change. Change brings about chaos, which leads to disruption. However, out of disruption there is opportunity.” He continued, “There is an opportunity for the MDDF to move forward to better align with the Maryland Military Department. There is also an opportunity for MDDF volunteers to seek new positions of responsibility and challenge themselves. Let us all embrace this opportunity and rise up to the challenge.”

The Maryland Defense Force (MDDF) is the State’s uniformed volunteer military unit providing professional and technical assistance to the Maryland Military Department. Established in 1917, the MDDF consists of nearly 250 personnel who perform legal, engineering, finance, medical, chaplain, field support and ceremonial services for the State of Maryland. For more information:

Thursday, April 13, 2017

MDDF Realigns to Better Support MILDEP

By MAJ (MDDF) Stephen Rice
13 April 2017

Under the leadership of Brig. Gen. (MDDF) Lorenza Cooper, Commanding General, Maryland Defense Force (MDDF), the state defense force component has gone through a comprehensive realignment process to ensure that it provides improved support to the Maryland Military Department (MILDEP). This process has included changes and improvements with respect to MDDF culture, training, personnel and operations policies. This transformative process has assisted the MDDF improve its service delivery to the Maryland Military Department while also positioning the MDDF for success in the future.

On the cultural, training and personnel policy front, the MDDF has made a host of changes. The primary focus is continuously recruiting competent people through an organized recruiting effort aligned with the table of organization, job description and MDDF requirements. The MDDF is no longer accepting new recruits where their skills and the needs of MDDF do not align. Additionally, the MDDF has improved training standards, military discipline and its mission centric focus. There has also been a renewed focus on ensuring that MDDF members follow proper military customs, courtesies and professional bearing.

Brig. Gen. (MDDF) Cooper commented, “We want all of our new recruits and current personnel to have emergency management training at the basic level. It’s a requirement for all new recruits to get the Basic Military Emergency Management Specialist (MEMS) Badge. Eventually, all personnel should achieve this certification. Furthermore, our focus on MEMS training strategically aligns with the development of a support element for Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and MILDEP.”

Additional MDDF changes include a reaffirmation of existing standards and a rededication to regular drill participation as the cornerstone of an effective command. The MDDF re-affirmed its retirement age, which allows the MDDF to seamlessly integrate into missions with the National Guard. The MDDF retirement age is 65 and limited waivers will be offered for critical skills requirements. “It’s important to adhere to age, height and weight standards for health reasons as well as because it adds to our overall military effectiveness,” Brig. Gen. Cooper added. The reduction in the headquarters staff and migration of personnel to field units will allow engagement with MILDEP personnel on a more regular basis. “This requires us to meet the highest standards of professionalism”, according to Brig. Gen. (MDDF) Cooper.

“If personnel aren’t coming to drill regularly they are not getting the proper level of training, which means we can’t effectively use them when called to state active duty,” stated Brig. Gen. (MDDF) Cooper. This naturally has led to a right sizing of the MDDF component.

MDDF operations have gone through some changes as well. Brig. Gen. (MDDF) Cooper is planning to add units that can bring more value to MILDEP. One of these units is the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) Support Unit. This unit will consist of 20-30 personnel who can provide direct operational support to MEMA. “If there is an incident, our MEMA support team members can fill in for MEMA staff when necessary on a rotational basis as a force multiplier for MEMA staff.” The MDDF MEMA Support Unit will mirror the MEMA staffing pattern and comprise of trained MEMS qualified personnel that possess the required certifications necessary to fulfill operational roles.

The MDDF is also continuing to develop its Cyber Unit in concert with MILDEP. Maj. Gen. Linda Singh, the adjutant general of Maryland recently launched a Cyber Center of Excellence (COE). This initiative has incorporated Maryland National Guard cyber units (Army & Air), the MDDF Cyber unit and Maryland’s Department of IT (DoIT) in its planning and programming. The MDDF Cyber Unit is now actively engaged in supporting MILDEP in its efforts in establishing the Cyber COE.

The blueprint for the revised operational environment for the MDDF is their new table of organization (TO). “With the approval of the adjutant general, the MDDF has either written or rewritten many duty descriptions and improved rank alignment with their respective duties. We’ve also outlined the requirements necessary to maintain certain billets,” commented Brig. Gen. (MDDF) Cooper. He continued, “Eventually we want to invert our existing organization to bring about a representative number of enlisted personnel with an appropriate number of officers at all ranks. Currently the MDDF is too top heavy. While we understand the professional value, our team needs to consist of a variety of skills in both enlisted and officers; not just doctors, lawyers or professionals. We need both!”

The MDDF has also re-affirmed mission and training procedures within the MDDF. Outside of the state missions and training activities will not be conducted without approval from the Adjutant General, and only then if an official Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) request is approved by the Governor.

Right sizing the organization has optimized the units to leverage better alignment between the MDDF and MILDEP. As an example, the MDDF Judge Advocate Corps (JAC) had ballooned to over 40 officers in recent years when their tempo was high due to the pace of deployments. The Judge Advocate Corps support to MILDEP supporting mission requests from the Joint Staff or MILDEP has diminished significantly. “The MDDF may have needed a large JAC in the past, however the needs are different today and deployment tempo has changed. Therefore, the JAC has been streamlined significantly,” added Brig. Gen. (MDDF) Cooper.

The MDDF realignment has not gone unnoticed. “During my recent tenure, we have really tried to rededicate the MDDF to its core mission which is providing technical competent support to MILDEP,” stated Brig. Gen. (MDDF) Cooper. He continued, “Our transformative changes have increased cooperation at the MILDEP senior leadership level. The result of all these changes is that we have gained a lot of support from the adjutant general.” In 2016, the MDDF volunteered over 50,000 man hours to the State of Maryland valued at $3.1 million dollars. Brig. Gen. (MDDF) Cooper concluded by saying, “Continuous improvement is very important and the overall goal is to make us even better going forward.” The Maryland Defense Force (MDDF) is the State’s uniformed volunteer military unit providing professional and technical assistance to the Maryland Military Department. Established in 1917, the MDDF consists of nearly 200 personnel who perform legal, engineering, finance, medical, chaplain, field support and ceremonial services for the State of Maryland.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

MDDF Officer and NCO of the Year Honored by Governor

By MAJ (MDDF) Stephen Rice
Maryland Defense Force Public Affairs
23 March 2017

On March 23, 2017 the Maryland Defense Force’s (MDDF) Officer and non-commissioned officer (NCO) of the year were honored at the State House in Annapolis. Maj. (MDDF) Fred Sanford, the MDDF officer of the year and Sgt. (MDDF) Dustin Dixon, the MDDF NCO of the year were initially recognized at a reception hosted by Lawrence J. Hogan, governor of Maryland. Also in attendance at the reception were Maj. Gen. Linda Singh, the adjutant general of Maryland and Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas B. Beyard, the senior enlisted leader of the Maryland National Guard. At the reception, Governor Hogan congratulated each of the recipients on their distinguished achievement and special recognition.

Afterwards, the award recipients were recognized on the floor of the Maryland General Assembly’s House of Delegates and on the floor of the Maryland Senate along with their counterparts from the Maryland Army National Guard (MDARNG) and the Maryland Air National Guard (MDANG). Each of the honorees received their own “House Resolution” thanking them for their dedicated service and signed by Michael E. Busch, Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates. Each honoree also received a “Senate Resolution” signed by Thomas V. ‘Mike” Miller, President of the Maryland Senate.

“The award, the ceremony and the reception exceeded my expectations. It was very humbling to be recognized in such a way,” added Maj. (MDDF) Sanford. A career educator, Maj. (MDDF) Sanford currently serves as an adjunct professor of mathematics at Prince George’s Community College while also serving as the Job Placement Coordinator at North Point High School in Waldorf, MD. As the operations officer in the MDDF’s Professional Service Corps unit, he provides pre-deployment and post-deployment financial advisory services for Maryland National Guard unit members. “His commitment and professionalism has been exceptional which is why he is so deserving of this award,” commented Col. (MDDF) John Forberger, commander of the Professional Service Corps.

“This is a wonderful honor. I appreciate the recognition from the governor and the members of the General Assembly,” shared Sgt. (MDDF) Dixon. Currently serving as the staff NCO for the MDDF Plans, Policy and Training unit, he has served in the MDDF since 2012. Previously he served with the MDDF’s Mike Company and with its predecessor, the Provost Marshal Office, both as the personnel NCO. “Sgt. (MDDF) Dixon is the backbone of the unit and habitually goes above and beyond in service to the State of Maryland. This award lets him know that his hard work has not gone unnoticed,” said Lt. Col. (MDDF) Linda Chatterton, the commander of the MDDF Operations unit.

Both Maj. (MDDF) Sanford and Sgt. (Dixon) were formally selected for their honors by the Maryland State Guard Association. Each recipient will now compete for nationwide honors from the State Guard Association of the United States (SGAUS) amongst similar recipients from other state defense forces. “These men represent the best of the MDDF. They are an important part of our great team,” added Brig. Gen. (MDDF) Lorenza Cooper, commanding general of the MDDF.

The Maryland Defense Force (MDDF) is the State’s uniformed volunteer military unit providing professional and technical assistance to the Maryland Military Department. Established in 1917, the MDDF consists of nearly 250 personnel who perform legal, engineering, finance, medical, chaplain, field support and ceremonial services for the State of Maryland. For more information:

Saturday, March 4, 2017

MDDF 10th Medical Regiment Supports MDANG

By MAJ (MDDF) Stephen Rice
4 March 2017

For more than four years, the Maryland Defense Force’s (MDDF) 10th Medical Regiment has provided ongoing medical support to the 175th Wing of the Maryland Air National Guard (MDANG). Working with the 175th Medical Group at their Warfield Air National Guard headquarters, members of the 10th Medical Regiment provide medical support for the 175th Wing’s operations, cyberspace, maintenance, mission support, comptroller and civil engineering units. The MDDF personnel supporting the 175th Wing include a physician assistant, nurses and physical therapists.

“I was reluctant at first but the MDDF has provided really qualified personnel that over the years have been a tremendous asset to the 175th Medical Group,” said Col. Marvin Nielsen who serves as the Maryland State Air Surgeon. He continued, “I was initially worried about the rotation effect where the MDDF might send different people each drill weekend who would then have to be oriented. However, the MDDF personnel detailed to the MDANG have been regular participants at our drills and we’ve really enjoyed having them around.”

Col. Timothy D. Stevens, commander of the 175th Medical Group added, “I came to Maryland from Kansas and I had no concept of the MDDF. On my first day, we had a field training exercise with elements of the Maryland Army National Guard (MDARNG), the Maryland Air National Guard and the Maryland Defense Force. The MDDF medical personnel were actually educating the army and air staff. The MDDF professionals were more seasoned and their practical training of the 175th Medical Group staff continues to be extremely valuable.”

Col. (MDDF) Nikki Austin, commander of the MDDF’s 10th Medical Regiment commented, “The dedication of the MDDF team to the 175th is a model for the integration of health professionals in support of the MDNG. The team frequently drills with the MDNG and also attends the 10th Medical Regiment drills as well. This takes an extraordinary commitment to service.” Current MDDF staff supporting the 175th Medical Group include registered nurses Maj. (MDDF) Rosemary Critzer and Capt. (MDDF) Evelyn Kloos, and physical therapist 1st Lt. (MDDF) JoAnn Shapiro.

Col. Stevens continued, “The MDDF medical personnel are an integral part of our team and they are definitely missed whenever they are not at Warfield (MDANG Air Base).” Brig. Gen. (MDDF) Lorenza Cooper, the commanding general of the MDDF added, “Our MDDF mission is to provide professional and technical support to the entire Maryland Military Department. I’m very proud of what the 10th Medical Regiment is doing in support of the Maryland Air National Guard. Their hard work helps us to successfully execute our overall mission.”

The Maryland Defense Force (MDDF) is the State’s uniformed volunteer military unit providing professional and technical assistance to the Maryland Military Department. Established in 1917, the MDDF consists of nearly 250 personnel who perform legal, engineering, finance, medical, chaplain, field support and ceremonial services for the State of Maryland. For more information: