More than 40 government and business leaders from throughout Kent County attend event at National Guard's Smyrna Readiness Center off of Wheatley's Pond Road.

The Delaware National Guard hosted a breakfast and networking event for government and business leaders from throughout Kent County in December at the Smyrna Readiness Center.

The center is located in the Smyrna Business Park off of Wheatley’s Pond Road.

More than 40 participants were offered an information brief and tour organized by the Delaware National Guard officials, led by Delaware's Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala. Guests were given information on the latest news from the statewide "hometown force" and had the chance to experience a hands-on display and capabilities brief.

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

The event showcased the Guard's two resident forces in Smyrna and 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, the team 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 more than 300 soldiers overseas. Deployments continue to this day. Both units showcased equipment displays and manpower to give an inside look of their capabilities.

Maj. Gen. Vavala gave an overview of the Delaware National Guard command structure, dual mission, residing units throughout the state, and its constitutionally unique position in the overall Defense Department.

He presented statistics, dollar figures, and charts to represent the National Guard's force compared to the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force in the state and across the nation, including their readiness and cost effectiveness based on budgets, and said, “The National Guard is the nation's best defense buy.”

The Delaware Guard includes 1,700 soldiers in the Army Guard and 1,100 airmen in the Air Guard.

Maj. Gen. Vavala said in the last five years, over 95 percent of the Guard has deployed overseas, in addition to their state response activations. He said the Delaware Guard is preparing for and tasked to send over 400 soldiers and airmen to support the upcoming Presidential Inauguration.

Visitors were given an overview of the Guard’s community partnerships and programs including their Honorary Commanders program and their signature program, the "War on Hunger" that has collected over 200,000 pounds of non-perishable goods for Delawareans.

The event 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.

Maj. Gen. Vavala also talked about the current military construction projects that are bringing a positive economic impact to the state's economy.

Mitch Magee of PPG Industries noted after witnessing the abilities and specialized operations of the Civil Support Team, he “definitely feels fortunate, proud and safer knowing this capability is in our backyard.”

Judy Diogo, President of the Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce, said she was impressed with the visit.

“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,” Diogo said. “In a word: awesome. Awesome people. Awesome skills. Awesome resources. Awesome service to our county and country.”

Dave Detrick of Chesapeake Utilities said he wished more Delawareans could see the enthusiastic presentation by Maj. Gen. Vavala that reviewed the Guard's structure and missions to become 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.

For more information on the Delaware National Guard or to be included in future civic leader tours, call Lt. Col. Len Gratteri at (302) 540-0134.