LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — The Virginia National Guard’s Lynchburg-based 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team has been ordered to mobilize and enter federal active duty in order to provide a security force supporting Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa, officials announced Thursday.
According to a statement issued by the National Guard on Thursday, July 29, approximately 1,000 soldiers will mobilize as Task Force Red Dragon under 1st Battalion’s Headquarters with Virginia Army National Guard units from Bedford, Charlottesville, Lexington, Pulaski, and Suffolk — as well as a Kentucky Army National Guard unit — and they will begin serving on federal active duty for approximately 12 months in the late autumn.
While the battalion is trained and equipped to accomplish a wide range of missions throughout the U.S. Africa Command area of responsibility, officials say the battalion’s primary objective is providing security for the various forward operating bases maintained by the Department of Defense to build partnerships with host nations and improve safety and stability in the region.
“Once again the Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment are answering our nation’s call to deploy overseas, and I am confident they will be very successful in their mission,” said Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia. “They are one of our most deployed battalions in the last 20 years, and they carry the rich traditions of the 29th Infantry Division’s World War I and World War II service with them today. They are highly-motivated and well-trained Soldiers led by experienced officers and noncommissioned officers, so they are ready to take on the toughest challenges. I also want express our sincere appreciation to their families and employers for their support over the last 18 months and for the road ahead. We can’t do our mission without them.”
Williams says the Virginia National Guard is on pace to mobilize the most soldiers and airmen since 2007. Meanwhile, the 29th Infantry Division will mobilize the most soldiers since World War II, deploying troops from units in Virginia, Maryland, and Kentucky.
Approximately 330 Virginia National Guard soldiers assigned to the Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division are currently on federal active duty while approximately 80 soldiers assigned to the Virginia Beach-based 329th Regional Support Group are scheduled for mobilization in fall 2021, according to the National Guard’s statement on Thursday.
Soldiers will spend about two weeks in August training at Fort Pickett as they prepare for mobilization through a number of administrative and field training tasks, including weapons qualification, equipment issue, and medical evaluation.
Then, in the fall, soldiers will report to Fort Bliss, Texas, for approximately 30 to 45 days of additional mobilization training before heading overseas.
“Our Soldiers are ready to deploy,” said Lt. Col. James Tierney, commander of 1st Battalion. “Our high operational tempo over the last 18 months protecting and assisting our fellow Virginians has increased our readiness and built adaptive and agile Soldiers who will be ready for almost any requirement in our federal mission. We supported state and local law enforcement during civil disturbances in May and June 2020, supported testing and vaccinations during the statewide COVID-19 pandemic response, helped evacuate citizens to safety during flooding in Southwest Virginia and most recently supported civilian law enforcement in Washington D.C. before, during and after the presidential inauguration.”
Tierney also acknowledged the important role of families and employers.
“It is never easy for our Soldiers to put their lives on hold, but we do it as part of our commitment as National Guard Soldiers,” he said. “We owe a very special thanks to our families and employers for their tremendous support and sacrifice during our deployments which is so critical to our success.”
The following units are scheduled to take part in the mobilization:
- Lynchburg-based Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (approximately 200 soldiers)
- Bedford-based Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (approximately 130 soldiers)
- Lexington-based Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (approximately 90 soldiers)
- Pulaski-based Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (approximately 80 soldiers)
- Lynchburg-based Golf Company, 429th Brigade Support Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (approximately 60 soldiers)
Officials say this will be the battalion’s fourth federal active duty mobilization since Sept. 11, 2001, as well as the largest single unit VNG mobilization since World War II.
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