LYNCHBURG, Va. – The Virginia National Guard’s Lynchburg-based 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team will soon be deployed to Africa for overseas duty.
On Thursday, Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, announced in a press release that the unit was given a mobilization order to provide a security force for the Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa. The release said that providing security for bases that the Department of Defense maintains will help build partnerships with host nations and improve safety and stability in the region.
According to officials, nearly 1,000 soldiers are set to mobilize as Task Force Red Dragon under 1st Battalion’s Headquarters with Virginia Army National Guard units from Bedford, Charlottesville, Lexington, Pulaski and Suffolk along with a Kentucky Army National Guard unit from Somerset, Kentucky.
If all goes as planned, this will be the most soldiers and airmen that the Virginia National Guard has deployed since 2007, said Williams. In addition, the 29th Infantry Division is set to mobilize the most soldiers since World War II as it deploys troops from units in Virginia, Maryland and Kentucky.
In August, soldiers will train at Fort Pickett, Virginia for about two weeks in preparation for the mobilization. The training will include weapons qualification, equipment issue and medical evaluation.
Then in the fall, soldiers will report to Fort Bliss, Texas to receive additional training for about 45 days before heading overseas to serve on federal active duty for about 12 months.
“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,” Williams said.
Lt. Col. James Tierney, commander of 1st Battalion, went on to express his gratitude for the amount of dedication that the soldiers have demonstrated.
“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.”
Here’s a breakdown of the units that are set to mobilize along with the approximate number of soldiers:
- Lynchburg-based Headquarters Company - 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team - 210 soldiers
- Bedford-based Alpha Company - 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team - 130 soldiers
- Lexington-based Bravo Company - 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team - 90 soldiers
- Pulaski-based Delta Company - 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team - 80 soldiers
- Lynchburg-based Golf Company - 429th Brigade Support Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team - 60 soldiers
- Suffolk-based Bravo Troop - 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team - 130 soldiers
- Charlottesville-based Alpha Company - 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team - 130 soldiers
- The Kentucky Army National Guard’s Somerset, Kentucky-based Bravo Company - 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team - 170 soldiers
Authorities report that this will be the battalion’s fourth federal active duty mobilization since Sept. 11, 2001, and the largest single-unit VNG mobilization since World War II.