RICHMOND, Va. –
Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin and the First Lady of Virginia Suzanne S. Youngkin hosted a reception for Virginia National Guard Soldiers, Airmen and their families Dec. 4, 2022, at Virginia’s Executive Mansion in Richmond, Virginia, to recognize the families of those personnel who are currently on federal active duty deployments.
Retired Maj. Gen. Craig Crenshaw and Jason Pak, the Virginia Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs, and Brig. Gen. James W. Ring, the Virginia National Guard Director of the Joint Staff, also visited with Soldiers, Airmen and their families during the event. The Fork Union Military Academy Honors Band provided a musical performance for those in attendance.
The governor made remarks during the event, thanking not just those serving but the families who support them.
“To have a son or a daughter or a husband or wife, mom or dad, deployed at this time of year is a very difficult thing,” said Youngkin. “But it’s not just the men and women who serve, but it is their families, the heroes behind the scenes, the heroes who build a house on rock as opposed to on sand. So I want to thank all of you for the amazing sacrifices that you make.”
Youngkin also recognized the historic number of Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen who served on federal active duty in the last year, thanking them for their service to both commonwealth and country.
“We have Virginia National Guardsmen deployed around the world, in fact, it’s been unprecedented, because there’s so much need. As they have done from the beginning of time, Virginians answer the call,” the governor said. “As we look back on this year, we see over 2,000 brave men and women deployed around the world, in the Middle East, in Africa and in Kosovo, answering the call that America needs us. And when America needs us, Virginians show up.”
Over the last 18 months, more than 2,000 Virginia National Guard personnel have mobilized on federal active duty in the United States and overseas, the most since 2007. VNG Soldiers on duty in the U.S. provided engineer, transportation and unmanned aerial surveillance support to the Department of Defense-approved mission assisting Customs and Border Protection on the Southwest Border and cyberspace operations support to U.S. Cyber Command. Soldiers deployed overseas provided mission command for multi-national forces in Kuwait, mission command and base life support in Iraq and Kuwait, a security response force in the Horn of Africa, air defense site security in Iraq and conducted NATO peace support operations in Kosovo. VNG Airmen also supported a short-notice air superiority support in the United Arab Emirates. VNG Soldiers are currently providing engineer utilities support in Kuwait and are scheduled to return in early 2023.
Since September 11, 2001, more than 18,500 VNG Soldiers and Airmen have mobilized across the globe and here in the United States for homeland security missions.
The Virginia Beach-based 576th Engineer Utilities Detachment, 276th Engineer Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group, is currently mobilized overseas, marking the official start of their federal active-duty mission at a ceremony April 19, 2022, at the State Military Reservation in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
It’s the first overseas mobilization for the 576th, which stood up in 2017. After several weeks of training in Texas, the 576th deployed to the Central Command region in support of Operation Spartan Shield. A unique, multicomponent operation which maintains a strategic military and humanitarian posture throughout Southwest Asia and the Middle East, the objectives of Operation Spartan Shield are to strengthen defense relationships and partner nation capacity.
The Soldiers of the 576th are supporting a variety of Task Forces and facilities throughout the region by providing engineering support in the form of carpentry, masonry, electrical, plumbing and road maintenance and repair. Read more about their mission at https://go.usa.gov/xuKpR
Several other VNG units returned from their federal active duty mobilizations in 2022, becoming part of the more than 18,500 VNG Soldiers and Airmen who have mobilized across the globe and here in the United States for homeland security missions since Sept. 11, 2001.
The Virginia National Guard’s Fairfax-based 123rd Cyber Protection Battalion, 91st Cyber Brigade marked the end of their support for Task Force Echo with a transition of authority ceremony Dec. 1, 2021, at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland. The task force consisted of more than 150 Army National Guard Soldiers, primarily assigned to the Fairfax-based 123rd Cyber Protection Battalion, and the Soldiers hailed from Illinois, Minnesota, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Task Force Echo is an ARNG Task Force mobilized annually to engineer, install, operate, maintain, and defend critical network infrastructure and conduct cyberspace operations in support of U.S. Cyber Command and the Cyber National Mission Force.
TFE is aligned under and operationally controlled the 780th MI Brigade and is administratively controlled by Army Cyber Command. The mission is sourced from the 91st Cyber Brigade and its five subordinate CPBs. TFE Rotations last for more than a year and each of the more than 60 TFE work roles have a unique training pipeline to prepare them for their mission requirements. Read more about the mission at https://ngpa.us/23075
Virginia National Guard Airmen assigned to the 192nd Wing at Joint Base Langley-Eustis enabled rapid deployment of F-22 Raptors to Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates as part of a multifaceted demonstration of U.S. support after a series of attacks throughout January 2022 threatened U.S. and Emirati armed forces stationed at the host installation. Read more at https://ngpa.us/23074
The Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division Headquarters returned to the United States in March 2022 after a 9-month deployment to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility as the headquarters of Task Force Spartan, which exercises command and control of Operation Spartan Shield. Task Force Spartan is a unique, multi-component, total Army organization, made up of active Army, National Guard, and Army Reserve support units and is led by a National Guard division headquarters on a rotational basis.
In its role as Task Force Spartan, the 29th ID commanded two brigades and four battalion-level task forces. Units supporting Operation Spartan Shield provide capabilities such as aviation, logistics, force protection and information management. They also facilitated theater security cooperation activities such as key leader engagements, joint exercises, conferences, symposia, and humanitarian assistance and disaster response planning. Read more about the 29th’s mobilization at https://go.usa.gov/xzw3F
The Virginia Beach-based 329th Regional Support Group Headquarters returned to Virginia in June 2022 after supporting Operation Inherent Resolve at multiple locations from Oct. 7, 2021, to June 6, 2022. The 329th’s mission was to provide mission command and base life support to four geographically dispersed locations in the OIR area of operation: Al Asad Air Base, Erbil Air Base and Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center in Iraq and Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.
Collectively, the 329th RSG's missions included commanding assigned or attached units, supporting units and personnel as directed, providing contract requirements definition and oversight, determining base camp support requirements, supporting a 24/7 base defense operations center and overseeing base camp management and operations. Read more about the 329th’s mobilization at https://ngpa.us/20417
Approximately 1,000 Virginia and Kentucky National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Lynchburg-based 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, ended their mobilization as Task Force Red Dragon during a transfer of authority ceremony Sept. 19, 2022, to officially end their security mission for Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa. They began serving on federal active duty Nov. 27, 2021.
Task Force Red Dragon provided security forces throughout the Horn of Africa, maintaining a presence in Djibouti, Somalia, and Kenya. This defensive mission included 24/7 perimeter security of military installations, to include manning guard towers and vehicle entry control points to constantly safeguard U.S forces, partner forces, and civilian contractors. The task force also provided land-side security for multiple U.S. Navy port calls, enabling refueling and refit operations for U.S. ships operating in the vicinity of the strategic Bab-el-Mandeb strait. Throughout this base defense mission, the task force effectively integrated their enabler units into the defensive plan by augmenting medical personnel at each site, establishing indirect fire capabilities, and continuously worked to improve their defensive posture.
Additionally, TFRD provided the ground component of the East Africa Response Force, tasked with execution of a broad range of military operations, to include crisis response and security augmentation to Department of State or other U.S. facilities, support for military-assisted departure or non-combatant evacuation operations and other missions as directed. The EARF conducted monthly emergency deployment readiness exercises to ensure readiness and preparation in responding quickly to crises within East Africa. Over the course of the deployment, the EARF supported Department of State missions in Nairobi, Kenya; Mogadishu, Somalia; and Durban, South Africa. The EARF also conducted two emergency deployment readiness exercises to rehearse the reinforcement of contingency support locations in East Africa. Read more about TF Red Dragon’s mobilization at https://ngpa.us/21523
The Virginia National Guard's Sandston-based 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment, 29th Infantry Division, mobilized as Task Force Pegasus, officially ended its mission in Kosovo during a transfer of authority ceremony Oct. 11, 2022, at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo.
During Task Force Pegasus’ rotation, over 1,700 flight hours and 275 aerial missions were completed, five multinational multi-ship flights, and 14 MedEvac missions, two of which required the use of a hoist and countless hours of training. Read more about Task Force Pegasus at https://ngpa.us/22186
The Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team also returned from overseas in 2022, officially ending their mission as Task Force Saint Lo and the mission command headquarters for NATO Kosovo Force Regional Command-East with a transfer of authority ceremony Nov. 2, 2022, at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo. 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.
As the multi-national brigade assigned to Regional Command - East, Task Force Saint Lo commanded more than 1,000 personnel from 10 different nations to maintain a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement throughout Kosovo. The leaders and staff planned and executed three separate named operations to decrease tensions related to Serbian elections, License Plate Reciprocity, and securing energy infrastructure.
The brigade was also responsible for working with the Serbian armed forces to ensure all parties were in compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 of 1999 and the Military Technical Agreement. The focus of RC-East was to provide the opportunity to resolve tensions in the Balkans through political dialogue focused on normalizing relations between Serbia and Kosovo.
They planned and participated in multinational training events with the German contingencies to earn the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge and Schützenschnur and with the Danish contingencies to participate in the DANCON march. They also hosted the U.S. marksmanship badges for two NATO nations. Senior leaders took part in more than 70 engagements with the Kosovo Police, local mayors and Serbian armed forces. The Civil-Military Cooperation section executed 10 projects valued at more than 70,000 euros. Read more about Task Force Saint Lo at https://ngpa.us/22642
Most recently, Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Norfolk-based 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, conducted a transfer of authority ceremony Nov. 12, 2022, at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, to officially end their short-range air defense mission for Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve.
While deployed, approximately 330 Soldiers were tasked to provide short-range air defense against unmanned aerial systems and rocket artillery and motor attacks, protecting more than 10,000 coalition forces and critical assets throughout the Central Command area of operations in the Middle East using the Counter-Rocket, Artillery and Mortar System, or C-RAM.
Throughout the deployment, the 1-111th successfully engaged two UAS systems and multiple rockets with kinetic defeat systems and more than two dozen UAS systems with non-kinetic systems. They were also responsible for upgrading and expanding counter UAS operational capabilities. Read more about the 1-111th’s mobilization at https://ngpa.us/22853