RICHMOND, Va. –
The Virginia National Guard’s Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Headquarters will mobilize for federal active duty in early January 2022 to take responsibility for the NATO-led Kosovo Force Regional Command-East, according to an announcement made Aug. 13, 2021, by Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia. NATO KFOR troops conduct peace support operations contributing to a safe and secure environment for all people in Kosovo while healthy political dialogue continues between Kosovo and Serbia.
"The 116th IBCT Headquarters has time and again been given the toughest assignments, and they are staffed with some of the most experienced and capable leaders and Soldiers in the Virginia National Guard," Williams said. "Whether it was duty in Iraq, Afghanistan, the U.S. Virgin Islands or most recently assisting civilian law enforcement with security operations at the 59th Presidential Inauguration, they can always be counted on to accomplish the mission with results exceeding the standard. I have tremendous confidence in their ability to be a valuable partner in the NATO-led Kosovo Force and to help maintain safety and security for all people in their area of operations."
It will be the 30th rotation of U.S. military forces based at Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo.
“We are looking forward to the opportunity to serve with our NATO partners to help maintain peaceful and stable communities throughout our entire area of responsibility in Kosovo,” said Col. Christopher J. Samulski, commander of the 116th IBCT. “I think we have a great team of Soldiers who feel honored to be part of this important mission to help KFOR continue to provide a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all citizens in Kosovo.”
Samulski said the brigade’s two weeks of annual training helped them accomplish a number of essential administrative and medical tasks to be ready for the upcoming deployment, and the brigade staff also made significant improvements in their mission analysis process and gained a better understanding of what they need to do to be successful.
He also recognized the important role families and employers have in the unit.
“We continue to receive tremendous support from our families, and that is absolutely critical to mission success,” he said. “We want to thank our employers for their sacrifices while Soldiers are mobilized.”
RC-E units include a maneuver battalion capable of rapidly deploying throughout RC-E area of responsibility to guarantee a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement and an effects battalion maintaining situational awareness with local authorities and non-government organizations for monitoring and early identification of security, socio-economic and political situations. Units also include a general aviation battalion task force providing medical casualty transportations and air mobility for all KFOR troops and a support task force for logistical and medical support.
Each unit supports the safety, security and freedom of movement for all the communities in Kosovo in accordance with KFOR's mandate as per United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 of 1999. Troops from the U.S., Poland, Latvia, Switzerland, Turkey, Slovenia, Greece, Hungary and Italy serve in RC-E.
Williams said the VNG is on pace to mobilize the most Soldiers and Airmen since 2007, and the 29th Infantry Division will mobilize the most Soldiers since World War II with troops deploying from units in Virginia, Maryland and Kentucky.
Current and planned VNG federal active duty mobilizations:
⁃ Approximately 500 Virginia and Maryland National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division are currently on federal active duty 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.
⁃ Approximately 80 Soldiers assigned to the Virginia Beach-based 329th Regional Support Group are scheduled for mobilization in Fall 2021 to the Central Command Area of Operations under the operational control of Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve serving as the base operating support-integrator for multiple installations.
⁃ Approximately 1,000 Virginia and Kentucky National Guard Soldiers assigned to Lynchburg-based 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team are scheduled to mobilize in Fall 2021 to provide a security force in support of Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa.
This is the third federal active duty mobilization for the 116th IBCT Headquarters since Sept. 11, 2001. Additional information on previous mobilizations as well as significant domestic response missions:
During the Virginia National Guard’s support to civilian law enforcement at the 59th Presidential Inauguration in January 2021, the 116th IBCT Headquarters deployed with elements of all their organic battalions, including the Kentucky National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry Regiment, as well as elements of the 329th Regional Support Group and the 192nd Wing and units from additional states. On Inauguration Day, the 116th was leading a total of 22 battalion-sized elements from 25 different states with more than 9,000 personnel.
The final group of 116th IBCT Soldiers returned from hurricane recovery duty in the U.S. Virgin Islands Oct. 17, 2017. They provided mission command for the joint task force consisting of just over 1,300 National Guard Soldiers and Airmen from 25 states and Washington, D.C. supporting the U.S. Virgin Islands government and Virgin Islands National Guard. The JTF had two core missions of supplying and managing points of distribution and providing assistance to law enforcement in traffic control, fixed site security and basic policing. From Sept. 27 to Oct. 15, points of distribution provided citizens with more than 19,700 cases of water, nearly 25,000 meals and more than 8,000 tarps.
Soldiers assigned to the 116th IBCT Headquarters returned to Virginia Jan. 7, 2012, after serving on federal active duty in Afghanistan since early August 2011. They served as headquarters for Combined Team Zabul where they conducted full-spectrum counterinsurgency operations in Zabul Province in southeast Afghanistan. They officially began federal active duty May 15, 2011 and mobilized with just 60 day’s notice. The 116th BCT Headquarters was the first National Guard brigade combat team headquarters to command United States Army active duty forces, NATO forces and National Guard forces in Afghanistan.
Soldiers assigned to the 116th IBCT Headquarters mobilized from June 2007 to February 2008 for duty in downtown Baghdad, Iraq, where they helped to control and coordinate security for the city's U.S. Embassy Zone.
More than 400 Virginia National Guard Soldiers ended their mission in Kosovo Nov. 2, 2007, after starting the KFOR 8 rotation Dec. 6, 2006. Soldiers from the 29th Infantry Division Headquarters provided command and control for the Kosovo Force’s Multi-National Task Force (East), Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment made up most of Task Force Red Dragon and Soldiers from all over Virginia joined together to form the special Liaison Monitoring Team Company. Soldiers from the Maryland National Guard also contributed a number of Soldiers to the division headquarters. Read more at https://go.usa.gov/xFpPt
About the 116th IBCT:
The 116th IBCT is authorized approximately 3,500 Soldiers and is the largest major command in the Virginia National Guard. The 116th has units throughout Virginia from Winchester to Pulaski along I-81, from Staunton to Virginia Beach along I-64, from Danville to Lynchburg to Warrenton along Route 29 as well as Fredericksburg, Manassas and Leesburg. An infantry battalion based in Barbourville, Kentucky, is also aligned with the 116th for training and readiness oversight.
A brigade combat team is the basic deployable unit of maneuver in the U.S. Army and carries with it support units necessary to sustain its operations away from its parent division. The 116th consists of three infantry battalions, a cavalry squadron, a field artillery battalion, a brigade support battalion and brigade engineer battalion.