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Guardians of the State: Washington State Guard Bolsters Cybersecurity Measures for Elections

The Washington State Guard (State Defense Force) will soon collaborate with the Washington National Guard for this fall’s annual election support mission led by the Secretary of State’s Office. The State Guard plays a vital role in many missions throughout Washington state, missions such as Wildfire Firefighting, Disaster response, and Cybersecurity. LTC Peter Lukevich, Chief of Staff for the Washington State Guard, emphasized the importance of integrating these expert volunteers into service, noting that unlike the National Guard, which can be federalized for overseas deployment, the State Guard operates solely within the state under the governor’s instructions.

The Washington State Guard has contributed significantly to various state missions, from wildfire responses to supporting cybersecurity and playing a substantial role during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Guard is composed of many former military members and experts in specific fields, these unique volunteers bring valuable experience and knowledge to their roles within The State Guard. Future initiatives include training as small drone operators to provide real-time video support during state disasters, enhancing their capabilities in disaster mitigation. The Guard also continues to seek individuals interested in serving their community, people who are willing to contribute their skills and expertise to the safety and security of Washington.

To learn more about upcoming missions, an article on DVIDS dives into The Washington State Guard:

Washington State Guard brings experience to state missions

Washington State Guard brings experience to state missionsCAMP MURRAY, WA, UNITED STATES

09.27.2023

Story by Joseph Siemandel

Joint Force Headquarters – Washington National Guard

Washington National Guard members taking part in this fall’s annual election support mission with the Office of the Secretary of State will be joined by members of the Washington State Guard.

“One of our missions is cyber security and we have some highly trained individuals in the Washington State Guard,” said LTC Peter Lukevich, chief of staff for the Washington State Guard and lawyer for more than 35 years. “So being able to plug in those experts into service is incredibly important.”

The Washington State Guard is an all-volunteer unit organized under the Washington Military Department and part of the state’s total response before, during and after a disaster. Dating back to the original state’s militia, the Washington State Guard is governed by the Revised Code of Washington (38.14). When the National Guard became federalized under the Militia Act of 1903, states began to create defense forces that would work directly under the instruction of the governor. Like the National Guard, members come from all walks of life and from across the state.

“The biggest difference for our members is where the National Guard can be federalized to deploy overseas, our members are activated by the governor and can only serve in the state,” said Lukevich.

Working with the National Guard, State Guard members can provide equipped and trained members to help with protection of life or property and the preservation of peace, order and public safety.

“We served during wildfires, supported the cyber mission and had a big role during the Covid-19 response,” said Lukevich.

Lukevich has only been in the State Guard for three years. He started his service as an enlisted member of the U.S. Navy Reserve and after completing an active-duty stint he came home and told his wife that he wanted to commission. He decided to take part in the Washington Army National Guard’s Officer Candidate School on Camp Murray.

“I went on to serve in the Washington Army National Guard and decided to retire and complete my service. But that all changed when the pandemic occurred,” said Lukevich. “I felt like I had something left give and felt I could continue to serve.”

Like Lukevich, many members of the Washington State Guard are former military that, for one reason or another, were not able to continue their service in the National Guard.

“Because many of our members are retired military or experts on a specific topic but maybe aren’t qualified to serve in the National Guard, they can bring that experience and knowledge to the State Guard,” said Lukevich. “Sometimes our members don’t want to be the typical or classic soldier, but they want to use their talents.”

These skills and expertise have helped the State Guard expand its missions the last few years. Chief Warrant Officer Three Bill Elliott and Master Sgt. Randolph August have been actively engaged with the state’s tribal leaders to build familiarization in the event of a disaster on tribal land.

“Their work is invaluable to our overall mission and relationship building with the tribes,” said Lukevich.

State Guard members teach amateur or “ham” radio classes to Guard members and are working with the Joint Incident Site Communication Capability alongside their National Guard partners. Next year they will train as small drone operators to support incident commanders during state disasters. The drones will be able to provide real-time video to help mitigate damage during a disaster.

“I was never going to be a pilot. I was an armor and infantry officer in the National Guard and now I can be a drone pilot,” said Lukevich. “I have taken the classes and the testing with my soldiers so I can have a better idea of what they are doing.”

Though small, the State Guard is always looking for potential members that are interested in serving their community.

“I know I would love to meet you personally and talk with anyone about the State Guard,” said Lukevich.


Source: DVIDS

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