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NEWS | July 8, 2023

Va. National Guard troops depart for Texas border support mission

By Cotton Puryear | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs

Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen departed for Texas July 8, 2023, where they will assist the Texas Military Department and Operation Lone Star border security operation. The VNG assembled Joint Task Force Cardinal, a group of approximately 100 Soldiers and Airmen, with another 10 personnel as the task force leadership team and support element, at Fort Barfoot July 5 for training and administrative tasks prior to their departure. The mission is expected to last about 30 days. “I am inspired by all of you. I can’t put it any other way,” said Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin when he visited the troops July 6 at Fort Barfoot. “On behalf of the Commonwealth of Virginia, I just want to say thank you. Thank you for your commitment, thank you for your love of nation, and thank you for your love of the commonwealth.” Youngkin also thanked families and acknowledged the Soldiers and Airmen will be missing out on time with loved ones while they are gone. “I want to thank you for the sacrifice you are undertaking as we head into an extremely important mission,” he said. Youngkin approved the VNG troop deployment after Virginia received requests for support to Texas via the Emergency Management Assistance Compact process. They are deploying to Texas in a state active duty status funded by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Youngkin explained that when a state needs help, they “send up a flare” and say they need help via EMAC, and Virginia will answer that call. “Someone called for help, and we are going to go help them,” he said. “That’s what this is all about. I firmly believe this is a worthy mission.” Youngkin commended the troops for coming together from across Virginia to work as a team and acknowledged they are well prepared and well trained. “I want you to know that we got your back,” he said. “Our nation and Virginians are grateful. We salute you.” The VNG’s Portsmouth-based 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team is the headquarters for Task Force Cardinal and will be augmented by Virginia Army and Air National Guard units based in Lynchburg, Winchester, Fredericksburg, Danville, Staunton and Hampton. The commander of 2nd Squadron, a U.S. Army major, and a first sergeant will serve as the overall command team for the task force. Along with approximately 10 administrative and sustainment support personnel, they will liaise with the Texas Military Department throughout the duration of the mission and ensure the health and welfare of all VNG personnel on the mission. “I know from personal experience having supported operations on the Southwest Border that border security, law enforcement and public safety organizations face tremendous challenges,” said Maj. Gen. James W. Ring, the Adjutant General of Virginia. “Just as the Virginia National Guard stands ready to assist our fellow Virginians in times of need, our Soldiers and Airmen are also ready to provide assistance to other states through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact process and will provide requested capabilities to help our fellow Americans.” Ring also acknowledged the team effort required to pull together the task force on short notice. “I am incredibly proud how quickly the Virginia Army National Guard, Virginia Air National Guard, Virginia Defense Force and Virginia Department of Military Affairs all came together to make sure the service members heading to Texas have everything they need to ensure mission success,” Ring said. “We also want to thank the families and employers for their support.” Members of the Virginia Defense Force and state employees from the Virginia Department of Military Affairs provided administrative and logistical support to get the troops ready for the mission. The Task Force Cardinal commander will maintain military command authority over all VNG personnel as they provide capabilities to the Texas Military Department in support of Operation Lone Star. The task force commander will remain under the military command authority of VNG senior leadership in the Commonwealth of Virginia and ultimately the Virginia governor, who is the commander in chief of the Virginia National Guard. According to a news release published June 30 by Texas Governor Gregg Abbott, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas National Guard continue to work together to “secure the border; stop the smuggling of drugs, weapons, and people into Texas; and prevent, detect, and interdict transnational criminal behavior between ports of entry.” The news release indicated that since the launch of Operation Lone Star, the multi-agency effort has led to more than 386,000 illegal immigrant apprehensions and more than 30,000 criminal arrests, with more than 28,000 felony charges reported. Texas law enforcement has seized more than 420 million lethal doses of fentanyl.

Photos of July 8 troop departure:  

Photos of July 6 Governor Youngkin visit:  

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