29th Infantry Division

Known as the Blue and Gray Division, the 29th Infantry Division is an Army National Guard operational-level headquarters located at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Its origins date back to World War I and is most known for its participation in the D-Day landings at Omaha Beach in World War II. The 29th ID wartime mission is to provide mission command to subordinate brigades and forces tailored for an assigned mission. It is one of eight divisions in the Army National Guard.

The Virginia Army National Guard's 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment and the 29th Infantry Division Band are aligned under the 29th.

The 29th Infantry Division exercises training and readiness oversight over the 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team from Florida and Alabama, the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team from Kentucky and Virginia, the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team from North Carolina and West Virginia, the 29th Combat Aviation Brigade from Maryland and Virginia, the 226th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade from Alabama, the 113th Sustainment Brigade from North Carolina and the 142nd Fires Brigade from Arkansas.
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More than 450 National Guard Soldiers assigned to the 29th ID from Virginia and Maryland, as well as Soldiers from seven other states came together to participate in a Warfighter exercise in the fall of 2019 at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania.

These Soldiers, as well as dozens more from the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania- based 28th Infantry Division, the Fort Campbell, Kentucky-based 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington-based I Corps, participated in Warfighter 20-1, a culminating exercise designed to test and formally evaluate the readiness of the division staff to operate as a forward-deployed command headquarters.

Also included in the training audience was the Arkansas National Guard’s 142nd Field Artillery Brigade and 77th Combat Aviation Brigade, the South Carolina National Guard’s 218th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, the New Mexico National Guard’s 111th Sustainment Brigade and the Virginia National Guard’s 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

In March 2020 Soldiers from the 29th ID were placed on state active duty while supporting various COVID-19 response events including test sites, distribution of food and key supplies and training people how to use personal protective equipment.

Virginia’s emergency declaration March 12 activated the VNG and authorized personnel to begin coming on duty to support COVID-19 response operations. Soldiers of the 29th ID immediately began assisting with operations, logistics and medical planning with the Virginia Emergency Support Team and in multiple Virginia Department of Emergency Management regions across the state.

The VNG established three multi-function “strike teams” in the east, west and central areas of the state. A strike team is a battalion-level mission command headquarters with subordinate units with transportation and material handling capabilities as well as organic medical support. One of these strike teams was commanded by one of the division’s subordinate unit, the 116th IBCT, to assist with loading supplies and transport them where they need to go.

Maj. Gen. John M. Rhodes succeed Maj. Gen. John M. Epperly as the commander of the 29th Infantry Division on Sept. 1, 2020.
Rhodes previously served as the 29th Infantry Division deputy commanding general for operations since Sept. 12, 2018. He served in command and staff positions at every level of the Mississippi Army National Guard and served as Mississippi National Guard Assistant Adjutant General – Army and the commander of the 66th Troop Command prior to his assignment with the 29th.

The 29th Infantry Division assisted federal agencies in securing the nation’s capital before and during the 59th Presidential Inauguration.

Soldiers of the 29th ID were among the more than 26,000 National Guard members from 50 states and three territories who were activated to support the inauguration by augmenting the Capitol Police, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Park Police and D.C. Metro Police Department.
 
The 29th ID leadership commanded Task Force Freedom, comprising of more than 9,000 personnel from 24 states, and was responsible for securing property at the U.S. Capitol, protecting government employees, providing logistical support, staffing traffic control points, and providing crowd management.
 
Virginia National Guard personnel made the transition from citizen to Soldier in a 24-hour period, some with a mere 12-hour warning before they were packing their gear, leaving family, school and jobs behind as they boarded busses. Shortly after arriving in D.C., Soldiers and Airmen started a rotating 12-hour shift schedule to provide 24-hour security details to assist civilian law enforcement in protecting property and providing a safe environment as multiple states started to fill the ranks.
 
According to an announcement made in February 2021, the 29th Infantry Division received a mobilization order for federal active duty in the Middle East. In spring 2021, more than 500 Soldiers of the 29th will begin a 10-month long deployment in the Central Command Area of Operations as Task Force Spartan to provide leadership, command, control, and in-depth staff analysis for Operation Spartan Shield.

This is the second time in recent years the 29th ID has deployed as Task Force Spartan with Soldiers serving on federal active duty from November 2016 to July 2017. They were the first intermediate division headquarters under U.S. Army Central Command and provided mission command for joint training exercises and military-to-military engagements with partner nations to promote regional stability and theater security cooperation.
 
2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment
 
Soldiers assigned to the Sandston-based 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment, 29th Infantry Division traveled to Marine Corps Outlying Field Atlantic in Atlantic, N.C., March 2020, to conduct aerial door gunnery from their UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.
 
Virginia National Guard flight crews trained with Chesterfield County Fire and Emergency Medical Services Scuba Rescue Team members on rescue hoist operations Nov. 19, 2020, in Chesterfield, Virginia.
 
In July 2020 Lt. Col. Matthew Lewis took command of 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment, 29th Infantry Division from Lt. Col. James Sheldon.
 
The aviation battalion also welcomed Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph R. Viera to the formation during a change of responsibility ceremony held in Oct. 2020.

29th ID News

Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Lynchburg-based 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team prepare for their upcoming federal active duty mobilization by conducting air operations training on UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters with air crews assigned to the Sandston-based 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment, 29th Infantry Division July 10, 2021, in Pulaski, Virginia. Soldiers who recently graduated from Air Assault and Pathfinder Schools passed along their newly-acquired skills to help build operational knowledge within the unit.
Va. Guard Soldiers assigned to Lynchburg-based infantry battalion to mobilize for overseas duty
July 29, 2021
The Virginia National Guard’s Lynchburg-based 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team has received a mobilization order to enter federal active duty to provide a security force in support of Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa, according to an announcement made July 29, 2021, by Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia. 

Virginia and Kentucky National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team conduct a live-fire range with the M110A1 Squad Designated Marksman Rifle during a new equipment training and fielding July 14, 2021, at Fort Pickett, Virginia. The Soldiers zeroed the new rifles before firing at targets up to 800 yards away. The M110A1, a 7.62-millimeter rifle, provides greater range and accuracy than the M4 rifle and is outfitted with a scope and sound suppressor. (U.S. National Guard photo by Mike Vrabel)
116th IBCT trains on new Squad Designated Marksman Rifle
July 26, 2021
Virginia and Kentucky Army National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team trained on and fielded new M110A1 Squad Designated Marksman Rifles July 12-15, 2021, at Fort Pickett, Virginia.

Maj. Gen. John Rhodes, commanding general, 29th Infantry Division, Virginia Army National Guard, presents an M1918 Trench Knife as a gift to Maj. Gen. Patrick Hamilton, commanding general, 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard during a Transfer of Authority ceremony at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, July 20 as a symbol of his appreciation for all the 36th had accomplished during its time as Task Force Spartan.  (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Marc Heaton, Task Force Spartan | 29th Infantry Division Public Affairs)
29ID assumes authority of Task Force Spartan
July 23, 2021
Maj. Gen. John Rhodes, commanding general, 29th Infantry Division, Virginia Army National Guard, assumed command of Task Force Spartan from Maj. Gen. Patrick Hamilton, commanding general, 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard, at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, July 20, 2021. The transfer of authority ceremony was presided over by Lt. Gen. Terry Ferrell, commanding general, U.S. Army Central.

Warrant Officers from the Virginia Army National Guard’s 29th Infantry Division joined other Warrant Officers to celebrate the 103rd birthday of the Warrant Officer Corps with a cake cutting ceremony July 9, 2021, on Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.  Warrant Officers are considered commissioned officers and serve as technical experts and advisors in nearly 20 different branches across the U.S. Army.
Deployed 29th Infantry Division warrant officers celebrate 103rd birthday
July 12, 2021
Virginia Army National Guard warrant officers assigned to the 29th Infantry Division, deployed in support of Operation Spartan Shield, celebrated the Warrant Officer Corps’ 103rd birthday alongside their 36th Infantry Division counterparts July 9, 2021, at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.

Lt. Col. Alyssa Astphan
Logistics officer balances family with military career
June 30, 2021
Lt. Col. Alyssa Astphan grew up in a military family. Her father served, her uncle served, and before them, her Lebanese grandfather served in World War II with a local militia and both the French and British Armies. Continuing her family's legacy of military service always seemed like a given. From the time she knew about the concept of careers, she knew hers would be spent in the military.

The Shield Newsletter

29th ID Organization

Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division
https://www.facebook.com/29thID/

Fort Belvoir-based Headquarters Battalion, 29th Infantry Division
https://www.facebook.com/HHBN29ID

  • Fort Belvoir-based Headquarters and Support Company
  • Fort Belvoir-based Operations Company
  • Cheltenham, Md.- based Signal Company (Maryland National Guard)
  • Laurel, Md.- Intelligence and Sustainment Company (Maryland National Guard)
  • Troutville-based 29th Division Band

Sandston-based 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment
 https://www.facebook.com/2ndBattalion224thAviation/

  • Sandston-based Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment
  • Sandston-based Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment
  • Sandston-based Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment
  • Sandston-based Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment
  • Chesterfield-based Detachment 2, Company G, 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment
  • Chesterfield-based Detachment 1, Company A, 2nd Battalion, 151st Aviation Regiment
  • Sandston-based Detachment 2, Company B, 777th Aviation Support Battalion
  • Sandston-based Detachment 26, Operational Support Airlift Command
Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team