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Virginia National Guard Soldiers return home after Qatar deployment

The first groups of Soldiers assigned to the Winchester-based 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, also known as Task Force Normandy, return to Virginia July 19, 2016, after serving on federal active duty...
The first groups of Soldiers assigned to the Winchester-based 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, also known as Task Force Normandy, return to Virginia July 19, 2016, after serving on federal active duty... (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

SANDSTON (WSLS 10) - Some Virginia National Guard soldiers are home after serving in Qatar. The first groups of Soldiers assigned to the Winchester-based 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment also known as Task Force Normandy, returned to Virginia Tuesday after serving on federal active duty since September.

As part of their security mission 450 Soldiers searched nearly 140,000 vehicles and more than 303,000 individuals, and they conducted nearly 970 security patrols. Their higher headquarters praised the battalion for making significant improvements in base security plans. They also drove approximately 253,000 miles without any safety issues or accidents.

"I'm very proud of the unit and the Soldiers of Task Force Normandy," said Lt. Col. Kurt Kobernik, commander of the battalion. "Their sacrifice and dedication to duty is humbling, and their performance in their jobs was nothing less than remarkable. They left their jobs, school and families with less than 90 days notice, and they improved the force protection at all three of our bases and maintained a positive attitude, which allowed us to accomplish things that most people told us could not be done."

In addition to their security mission, the deployment provided the unit with opportunities for rigorous individual and squad level training on core infantry skills. Every Soldier in the battalion qualified on their primary weapon and took part in short range and advanced rifle marksmanship training. The battalion was also able to conduct live fire training at the fire team, squad and section level, and crews were able to qualify on their crew served weapons.

"The ability of our Soldiers to train to squad level proficiency and execute team and squad level live fire exercises is pretty impressive," Kobernik said. "They executed the first-ever mortar life fire exercise by a U.S. unit in Qatar. Most importantly, I'm proud of their ability to maintain their professionalism and carry out a monotonous and often thankless responsibility."

Soldiers from the Lynchburg-based 1st Battalion took over the security mission last week.  There are currently more than 700 Soldiers and Airmen deployed in the Middle East and Cuba conducting security operations, providing engineer support and conducting other missions.