VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. –
Approximately 70 Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to Headquarters, 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group marked the start of its federal active-duty mobilization with a departure ceremony Jan. 28, 2024, in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Virginia Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears gave remarks at the event, as did Brig. Gen. Charles Martin Jr., the VNG Assistant Adjutant General - Army, and Lt. Col. Carlos Maldonado, commander of the 529th CSSB. Maldonado and Command Sgt. Maj. David Elliott Jr., the 529th CSSB command team, furled their organizational colors during the ceremony to signify the official start of the mobilization. They will unfurl the colors when they arrive in Poland and officially take responsibility for their mission.
“It is my distinct honor to be standing here today as the battalion commander of a great formation of Americans that are dedicated not only to their craft, but also to each other,” said Maldonado at the ceremony. “My confidence in the Soldiers could not be higher. They have proven time and time again that they are ready to excel at any mission we are assigned. I am indebted to them to for the sacrifice, dedication and professionalism that they show everyday.”
The Troutville-based 29th Infantry Division Band performed ceremonial music at the departure, and members of the Virginia Defense Force volunteered their time to conduct traffic control. Previous commanders of the 529th were also in attendance, including Maj. Gen. Michelle Rose, Col. Dennis Rohler, Col. Juanita Rohler and retired Col. Mike Waterman.
The 529th troops will serve under the command of U.S. Army’s 3rd Division Sustainment Brigade to provide sustainment command and control and support to forward-stationed U.S. and allied forces in the region. Their mission will be part of a rotation of forces conducting multinational training and operations with allies and regional security partners to increase military interoperability, build contingency response capabilities and deter adversaries in Europe.
The lieutenant governor spoke to the troops, encouraging them and reminding them of their bonds with each other.
“We are very grateful for your service, grateful that you volunteered to serve your country,” said Earle-Sears. “We know you are a band of brothers. You will have each other’s backs. Serve your country well, be strong and courageous.”
“Please know that I am proud of each of you and for your demonstrated record of excellence,” said Martin. “I’m grateful, as are your fellow citizens for your dedicated and selfless service. I look forward to hearing the great things your unit will achieve.”
This is the fourth federal active-duty deployment for the 529th since being federally recognized in 2009, with previous deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait. The mobilization order is for a period of 365 days, but could be extended if there is an operational need.
A combat sustainment support battalion is a multifunctional logistics headquarters exercising mission command for assigned companies, teams and detachments to provide maintenance support as well as distribution of food, fuel, ammunition and other vital supplies. They expect to have supply, transportation and maintenance companies under their command, but additional units could be assigned to meet mission requirements.
Soldiers of the 529th conducted a pre-mobilization annual training at Fort Barfoot in preparation for the deployment. Training events included individual weapons qualifications, live-fire ranges and asymmetric warfare training. They also gained valuable experience for the upcoming mobilization when they supported Joint Readiness Training Center rotation 23-8.05 July 6 to Aug. 6, 2023, at Fort Johnson, Louisiana. Conducted in support of the Hawaii Army National Guard’s 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, the 529th was in charge of running the division support area, where they provided command and control of more than 400 National Guard Soldiers from five different units from five different states providing food, water, fuel, ammunition and other supplies. Read more about the JRTC rotation at https://ngpa.us/27213
“You have trained on individual and collective tasks that have prepared you for this moment,” Martin told the deploying troops at the ceremony. “You have honed your skills at the Joint Readiness Training Center last year, and more recently at Fort Barfoot over the past two weeks. Be confident in your training and maintain the indomitable spirit that makes you the best Soldiers in the world.”
After the conclusion of the ceremony, Soldiers and their families said their pre-departure goodbyes before the troops loaded onto charter buses.
“I want to emphasize our continued thanks to our families,” said Maldonado. “In about an hour, we will be solely focused on our mission set, while you remain here to continue with school, doctor’s appointments, birthdays, anniversaries, sports and countless other milestones. This sacrifice never gets the recognition it deserves. You are not alone. The Virginia National Guard and its various resources are here to support you.”
“You will represent your families well, your families who love and support you and yes, worry over you,” said Earle-Sears. “Families, you’re serving, even as your loved ones are serving. You have given us your children, your spouses, your cousin, your nephew, your niece. Thank you for giving them, and know you are also in our prayers.”
About the 529th:
Approximately 70 Soldiers assigned to the 529th CSSB returned to the United States Sept. 11, 2019, after serving on federal active duty in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, headquartered in Camp Taji, Iraq since Dec. 2018. During the deployment they planned and coordinated combat sustainment support, managing all commodities, Operational Contracting Support and Counter-ISIS Train and Equip Fund, as well as maintenance support for numerous units operating in the Central Command Area of Responsibility with Soldiers in 14 locations spread across four different countries.
Soldiers assigned to the 529th served in Kuwait and Iraq from July 2014 to April 2015 where they planned and coordinated combat sustainment support for U.S. and coalition forces in Kuwait and the surrounding region to include Afghanistan and Iraq. During their nine months in Kuwait, the 529th adapted to an ever-developing mission set, quadrupled the sustainment capabilities of the battalion and provided ground, sea and air distribution of supplies and equipment, ammunition holding and distribution, maintenance, material handling and supply management by U. S. Army units as well as contracted support. Soldiers from the 529th operated in a forward support element in Iraq that was responsible for the sustainment support that got critical supplies to U. S. and coalition forces conducting combat operations against ISIL as well as advise and assist missions in the region.
The 529th previously deployed in March 2010, when it operated from the remote forward operating base at Shindand Air Base in Afghanistan. While there it pioneered logistical support operations as the first U.S. combat support battalion in the area to conduct operations. The battalion was responsible for building an expeditionary life support complex and infrastructure for the entire airbase while providing seamless sustainment operations for supported units as well as helping improve quality of life and promoting economic development in local Afghan communities. The battalion provided command and control for more than 500 Soldiers from three active duty units: the 104th Transportation Company from Fort Benning, Ga., the 183rd Maintenance Company from Fort Carson, Colo., and the 226th Quartermaster Platoon from Fort Stewart, Georgia. Working directly with Italian, Spanish, Slovenian and Afghan forces, the unit’s mission was to provide supply, maintenance and transportation support to U.S. and coalition warfighters throughout the region.
The 529th CSSB was one of eight units recognized as a Distinguished Unit of the Regiment during the Quartermaster Regimental Honors and Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony June 5, 2015, at Fort Lee, Virginia, The Distinguished Unit of the Regiment award was introduced in 1993 to recognize outstanding units, past and present, who have made a significant contribution to the Quartermaster Corps.
In September 2013 the National Guard Association of the United States presented the 529th CSSB with the Milton A. Reckord Award for training excellence during the 135th NGAUS General Conference in Honolulu, Hawaii. NGAUS presents the Reckord Award each year to the Army National Guard battalion that achieves the highest state of readiness in the country. For the Reckord Award, the battalion must have demonstrated superior performance in the areas of personnel strength, retention, duty MOS qualification, individual and crew served weapons qualification, the Army Physical Fitness Test, drill weekend attendance and annual training attendance. The battalion, along with its organic units, must have demonstrated a commitment to the welfare of its members and their families and to its communities during the training year for which being nominated.
Read more about the 529th at https://ngpa.us/27153