CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait – The 29th Infantry Division will hand over control of Operation Spartan Shield to the 35th Infantry Division in a transfer of authority ceremony July 13, 2017, at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.
The two divisions have been paired together several times throughout their storied histories. Both units celebrate their 100th anniversaries this year, and the TOA ceremony will mark another historic milestone where the two divisions have crossed paths.
The 29th, nicknamed the “Blue and Gray Division,” established a new command, Task Force Spartan, under U.S. Army Central with the mission of providing stability and deterring aggression in the region by building partner capacity, preparing to conduct unified land operations and ensuring the readiness of the approximately 10,000 Soldiers assigned to the mission.
More than 500 Soldiers of the 35th Infantry Division, nicknamed the “Santa Fe,” just completed their mission rehearsal exercise at Fort Hood, Texas. The exercise gave the Santa Fe an opportunity to ensure its battle staff was prepared for the challenges ahead.
“Practice makes perfect,” said Maj. Gen. Victor Braden, commanding general of the 35th Inf. Div., in an interview, June 19. “So we train like our lives depend on it; that’s what we’re doing here. We’re also getting a chance to look at how we set up our command posts, and how we’ll design those for the (operational) theater we’re going into.”
The two divisions have several shared experiences over the past century. Both divisions deployed and fought in Europe during the First and Second World Wars. The two divisions both fought in 1918’s massive, war-ending Meuse-Argonne Offensive and later fought literally side-by-side in the battle for Saint-Lo in July 1944.
More than sixty years later, in 2007, the divisions would cross paths again when approximately 200 Santa Fe Soldiers replaced their Blue and Gray counterparts as part of the multinational peacekeeping force known as Kosovo Force, or KFOR.
In its first century, the 29th Inf. Div. headquarters deployed to Europe twice for World Wars I and II, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and now Kuwait.
The division’s mission as Task Force Spartan in Kuwait highlights the vital role played by Army National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers in operations around the world. Since it was established last December, Task Force Spartan has conducted over 1,300 military-to-military engagements, planned, and executed 15 bilateral and multilateral exercises in 10 countries, coordinated and executed 17 minor military construction projects, and completed over 30 project assessments.
Additionally, the 29th introduced new capabilities, such as its Cyberspace Electromagnetic Activities (CEMA) cell, and established new network infrastructure to enable the division staff to communicate.
“As the old cadence goes, ‘around the world and back again,’ … we’ve come around the world, and done our jobs well, this opportunity has been an incredible experience and now we’re ready to get home,” said Maj. Gen. Blake Ortner, 29th Infantry Division commander.