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NEWS | July 27, 2016

Task Force Normandy Soldiers return to Virginia after federal active duty

By Cotton Puryear | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs

The last groups of Soldiers assigned to the Winchester-based 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, also known as Task Force Normandy, returned to Virginia July 27, 2016, after serving on federal active duty since September 2015. More than 450 Soldiers from units based in Winchester, Woodstock, Leesburg and Suffolk provided security for installations in the U.S. Army’s Central Command area of operations in Qatar with just 90 days notice for the mission. The first groups of Soldiers returned to Virginia July 19.

“I’m very proud of the unit and the Soldiers of Task Force Normandy,” said Lt. Col. Kurt Kobernik, commander of the battalion. “Their sacrifice and dedication to duty is humbling, and their performance in their jobs was nothing less than remarkable. They left their jobs, school and families with less than 90 days notice, and they improved the force protection at all three of our bases and maintained a positive attitude, which allowed us to accomplish things that most people told us could not be done.”

As part of their security mission, Soldiers searched nearly 140,000 vehicles and more than 303,000 individuals, and they conducted nearly 970 security patrols. Their higher headquarters praised the battalion for making significant improvements in base security plans. They also drove approximately 253,000 miles without any safety issues or accidents.

Soldiers from the Lynchburg-based 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, also known as the Red Dragons, took over the security mission from Task Force Normandy July 11.

The battalion had no Soldiers killed or seriously wounded in action.

In addition to their security mission, the deployment provided the unit with opportunities for rigorous individual and squad level training on core infantry skills. Every Soldier in the battalion qualified on their primary weapon and took part in short range and advanced rifle marksmanship training. The battalion was also able to conduct live fire training at the fire team, squad and section level, and crews were able to qualify on their crew served weapons.

“The ability of our Soldiers to train to squad level proficiency and execute team and squad level live fire exercises is pretty impressive,” Kobernik said. “They executed the first-ever mortar life fire exercise by a U.S. unit in Qatar. Most importantly, I’m proud of their ability to maintain their professionalism and carry out a monotonous and often thankless responsibility.”

Soldiers were also able to take advantage of educational opportunities and earned 727 college credits and completed 16,553 military education courses.

Kobernik also credited the families and Family Readiness Group leaders for their tremendous support throughout the entire mission.

“They are the ones who made the day to day things at home happen,” he said. “Without their support we couldn’t have done this mission.”

The battalion is headquartered in Winchester and is made up of the following company-level units for the deployment:

– Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment and Company F, 429th Brigade Support Battalion based in Winchester
– Company B, 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment based in Woodstock with additional Soldiers assigned to the detachment in Warrenton
– Company C, 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment based in Leesburg
– Troop B, 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment based in Suffolk

Soldiers from Company A, 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment based in Charlottesville with a detachment in Harrisonburg, as well as Soldiers assigned to 116th Brigade Special Troops Battalion based in Fredericksburg, also took part in the mission and deployed with the battalion.

Since September 11, 2001, more than 15,000 Virginia Guard Soldiers and Airmen have mobilized on federal active duty for homeland security missions and combat operations, sustainment support and peacekeeping in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo and other locations around the world. There are currently more than 700 Soldiers and Airmen deployed in the Middle East and Cuba conducting security operations, providing engineer support and conducting other missions.

View and download high resolution photos on Flickr:

Photos on the 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Facebook page:

Photos posted on the 2-183rd Cavalry Facebook page:

View raw video on the Va. Guard Facebook page:

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