NEWS | Feb. 14, 2022

116th IBCT HQ completes CTE, begins next phase of KFOR mission

By 1st Lt. Catherine M. Bean | 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team

The Virginia National Guard’s 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team headquarters completed their first step of pre-mobilization training after completing a culminating training exercise, Jan. 24, 2022 at Camp McGregor, New Mexico. Approximately 400 Virginia and Kentucky National Guard Soldiers are mobilized as Task Force Saint Lo and are training to take responsibility for the NATO Kosovo Force, or KFOR, Regional Command - East mission in Kosovo.

“The Soldiers did well here in Texas,” said Col. Christopher Samulski, the commander of the 116th IBCT. “It was a great opportunity to work out any kinks before we leave for Germany.” 

Saint Lo Soldiers were evaluated strategically, tactically and administratively, Samulski said. They conducted independent and joint patrols, key leader engagements, night live-fire exercises and civil disturbance exercises.  
The task force staff sections were validated in their overall military decision-making process from operation order receipt to mission analysis and the orders production process, Samulski said. The staff was tested in more specific scenarios such as how well they handled receiving Red Cross messages, personnel issues, and what to do if there is a mass casualty situation.  

Task Force Saint Lo is now training at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, where they will be evaluated on similar criteria, but this time with the multinational partners they will be serving with in Kosovo.  
“Adding multinational integration will be the next challenge we will face and will allow us to better prepare for our mission in Kosovo,” Samulski said. “We are a learning organization and any opportunity for us to grow is critical to success. Serving alongside our partner nations will continue to strengthen our interoperability and capabilities as an organization.” 

In addition to the 116th IBCT headquarters, Task Force Saint Lo includes Soldiers assigned to the 429th Brigade Support Battalion support operations section, as well as Delta Company, 229th Brigade Engineer Battalion and the Kentucky National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry Regiment.

The VNG’s 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment, 29th Infantry Division will serve as 116th’s aviation task force and will provide medical casualty transportation and air mobility for all KFOR troops.

RC-E also includes a maneuver battalion capable of rapidly deploying throughout the RC-E area of responsibility to guarantee a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement, as well as 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.
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, Romania, Switzerland, Turkey, Slovenia, Greece, Hungary and Italy serve in RC-E.

Task Force Saint Lo’s deployment will mark the 30th rotation of U.S. military forces based at Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo.

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