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NEWS | March 16, 2022

Virginia artillery battalion takes responsibility for air defense mission in Iraq

By Cotton Puryear | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office

The Virginia National Guard’s Norfolk-based 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team took responsibility for the U.S. Central Command Counter-Rocket, Artillery, Mortar Intercept Land-based Phalanx Weapon System mission from the Massachusetts National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 101st Field Artillery Regiment during a transfer of authority ceremony March 13, 2022, at Al Udeid Air Force Base in Doha, Qatar. “Operational missions such as the C-RAM build and sustain readiness in our Citizen-Soldiers and enhance our warfighting capabilities,” said Lt. Col. Donald L. Bailey II, commander of the 1-111th, also known as the First Virginia Artillery. “We have been preparing for months, and now is our time to execute this important mission. We will execute it with the tenacity and character each of you are already known to possess.” C-RAM is a set of systems used to detect and/or destroy incoming rockets, artillery, mortar rounds and other ordnance in the air before they hit their ground targets. During the TOA ceremony, the 1-101st was credited with shooting down “countless unmanned aerial vehicles” and other threats. Bailey said he is impressed with the ability of the 1-111th Soldiers to transition in just a few short months from their standing mission in the field artillery to a short range air defense artillery mission.  The unit began federal active duty Dec. 13, 2021, and reported to Fort Bliss, Texas, to conduct their initial mobilization training. Then they spent approximately two months training on the C-RAM system at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, before deploying to Iraq. Soldiers of the 1-111th will staff multiple C-RAM sites in key locations across Iraq. “You truly represent the best of our commonwealth, and it is demonstrated by your willingness to selflessly serve in an imminent danger area on the forward edge of freedom.,” Bailey said. “I have every confidence that First Virginia Artillery will prove itself ready and perform with distinction in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.” Bailey noted that the recent ballistic missile strikes in Northern Iraq are evidence of the serious nature of the unit’s mission and a reminder the battalion is now a force in contact each and every single day. He recognized the outstanding duty performance of the 1-101s and thanked the unit leadership for the invaluable assistance during the train up and transition. “You have set the bar extremely high, and we are anxious to continue the legacy of excellence established by each of the previous Army National Guard field artillery battalions performing this mission,” Bailey said to the leadership of 1-101st. “I want to personally thank each of you, your staff and your subordinate commands not just for this expertly conducted relief in place, but also for the way your team reached out to us even while we were back in Virginia to assist in preparation for this mission.” The 1-111th is the fourth Army National Guard field artillery unit to perform this mission starting with the Hawaii National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 487th Field Artillery Regiment, followed by the Iowa National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 194th Field Artillery Regiment and then the 1-101st. “This mission is complex,” Bailey said. “It is worthwhile and many of our joint, combined and interagency mission partners will be depending on us.” He asked the Soldiers of the First Virginia Artillery to “stay ready.” “I am proud of what you have already accomplished, and I know we will accomplish yet greater things in the near future,” Bailey said. “I ask that you stay vigilant, resilient, and lean one another. “

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