CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait –
Soldiers of the North Carolina National Guard’s 30th Military Engagement Team transferred authority to the Virginia National Guard’s 116th Military Engagement Team in a ceremony held May 8, 2016, at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.
Maj. Gen. William B. Hickman, Deputy Commanding General of Operations for 3rd Army/U.S. Army Central, presided over the ceremony.
“The impact you have is much more than 26 Soldiers,” Hickman told the assembled crowd. “I look forward to seeing what the 116th can do as you move forward.”
During the ceremony, Col. Todd Hubbard, Commander of the 116th MET, and Col. Allen Boyette, Commander of the 30th MET, switched the positions of the Virginia and North Carolina state flags to signify the transfer of authority, or TOA, from the 30th to the 116th. This act marked the end of the 30th MET’s mission and the official start of the 116th MET’s mission.
“I’m happy to report the 116th is ready for this mission,” Hubbard said during his remarks.
“The team assembled before you is very experienced and we have a diverse background of both civilian and military experience.”
Since their arrival in Kuwait and Jordan at the end of April, members of the 116th MET have been hard at work training with their counterparts in the 30th MET, learning their new responsibilities as well as the ins and outs of their new roles. For the first week, 116th Soldiers observed their counterparts, carefully noting the daily and weekly tasks completed that would soon be required of them. Soldiers of the 116th MET also completed driver’s license testing and the mail handler’s course and toured Camp Arifjan.
After two weeks, it was time for the 116th to move into the right seat and take control. The North Carolina flag that flies in front of the MET building was lowered and the Virginia flag was raised, phone rosters were updated and the patch of the 29th Infantry Division started to replace the patch of the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team. The TOA ceremony marked the final part of the transition between the METs.
In Jordan, team members have continued working on building relationships with host nation partners and have been involved in various meetings throughout Jordan as the 30th MET transitioned out and the 116th took their place. The team there has also had the opportunity to explore Jordanian culture by visiting several significant sites.
In advance of TOA, several members of the team completed missions in locations around the planet.
In Kazakhstan, before most of the team had even left Fort Hood, two members of the 116th MET traveled to Almaty, Kazakhstan to participate in Phase I of Steppe Eagle, an annual training exercise featuring units from the United States, the United Kingdom and Kazakhstan. For two weeks, Soldiers from these three nations exchanged information before coming together for a 72-hour culminating field training exercise which included Soldiers from the 116th MET, several of their counterparts from the 30th MET, members of the Arizona National Guard, a detachment from the United Kingdom’s 1st Rifles Battalion and units from the Kazakhstani Peacekeeping Battalion. Steppe Eagle aims to build interoperability and to prepare soldiers of Kazakhstan for future deployments as United Nations peacekeeping operation.
At Fort Sill, Oklahoma, Soldiers from the 30th and 116th METs teamed up with field artillery officers from the Pakistan Army for almost a week at the end of April. There, they provided the Pakistani soldiers with a tour of the Fires Center of Excellence and the Noncommissioned Officer Academy and exchanged information on the fire support planning process. The Pakistani soldiers also participated in a live fire exercise, where they saw both the M777 Howitzer and the M119 Howitzer fire.
At the beginning of May, three Soldiers traveled to Dushanbe, Tajikistan, where they met up with representatives from the Virginia National Guard’s State Partnership Program and worked with engineer officers of the Tajikistani National Army. With the Tajikistanis, the Soldiers shared information on engineer techniques, received a tour of the Tajikistani facility and discussed challenges unique to engineering.
“116th MET, I appreciate the energy and effort that you’ve demonstrated during our mobilization and training to this point and I would challenge you to continue the excellent work that the 30th has achieved here,” Hubbard said at the TOA ceremony. “We have the privilege of serving our country and defending our way of life. It’s a job we all take seriously and responsibly and I’m honored to work with you and thank you for your service to our nation.”