By MSG A.J. CoyneJuly 11, 2017
More than 100 Maryland and Virginia National Guard Soldiers from the Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division returned stateside July 9, 2017, after serving on federal active duty in Jordan since September 2016. The Soldiers arrived at their demobilization station in Texas where they will spend approximately seven to 10 days for reintegration training, medical evaluation and administrative tasks to transition from federal active duty to traditional National Guard status.
Soldiers will return home in small groups to airports closest to their home of record to reunite with their families and loved ones.
The Soldiers and Airmen of Task Force 29 conducted joint training and engagements in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan with personnel from the Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army as well as other allied countries in an effort to promote regional stability.
"The extraordinary service and pursuit of excellence by our Soldiers and Airmen has been outstanding," said Brig. Gen. Jeffrey P. Kramer, deputy commanding general of the 29th Infantry Division and commander of Task Force 29. "These men and women, comprised of multiple Army and Air Force units, including the 29th Infantry Division, should be proud of all that they have accomplished here through engagements and training while working by, with and through our Jordanian partners."
TF 29 was one of two groups of 29th Infantry Division Soldiers to deploy in 2016. TF 29 entered federal active service on Aug. 1, 2016, and spent approximately one month in Texas for training before beginning their mission in Jordan. On Oct. 30, 2016, more than 450 members of the 29th ID headquarters entered federal active service and later mobilized to the Middle East in support of Operation Spartan Shield. These Soldiers are also scheduled to return home this summer.
A formal recognition for all 29th ID Soldiers will take place in the coming months.
"What I witnessed from these Soldiers over the past several months is an example of what the National Guard does so well," said Maj. Heath Phillips, headquarters detachment commander for TF 29. "That is, bringing together multiple specialties from diverse backgrounds and forming a successful team."
While in Jordan the Soldiers of TF 29 coordinated and executed more than 150 security cooperation engagements from September 2016 to July 2017. This is more than any unit or organization in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility during the same period. They also helped improve the interoperability between Jordanian and coalition forces by coordinating multiple exercises and subject matter expert exchanges such as medical evacuation exercises designed to demonstrate the capability of Jordanian air assets.
Female Soldiers of TF 29 planned and coordinated multiple engagements with JAF female soldiers, providing both U.S. and Jordanian military women the opportunity to exchange information and best practices on leadership, communications skills and various women's empowerment topics. Through these engagements the U.S. and Jordanian military women built friendships and an understanding of each other's culture and similarities in the challenges that they face.
In an effort to enhance interoperability between JAF and coalition forces, noncommissioned officers from TF 29 participated in 13 exchanges focused on NCO duties and responsibilities in battalion and brigade command post operations.
Additionally, TF 29 NCOs coordinated with U.S. Army Central, the U.S. Embassy-Amman, the Kentucky National Guard's 149th Military Engagement Team and the JAF to execute the 2017 JAF NCO Symposium, a senior NCO exchange focused on professionalizing the Jordanian NCO corps.
"Our Soldiers performed exceptionally, representing not only the 29th ID and the U.S. Army, but the United States as a whole," said Command Sgt. Maj. James Nugent, the command sergeant major for TF 29. "Junior and senior NCOs alike worked alongside Jordanian NCOs and officers and showed them first hand why the NCO Corps is known as the backbone of the U.S. Army."
In an effort to coordinate and synchronize all Theater Security Cooperation activities in Jordan between multiple U.S. Department of Defense elements and coalition partners, the TF 29 plans section, led by a Colorado Army National Guard officer, established the Operations Actions and Activities synchronization effort.
Additionally, the plans section assisted the JAF Joint Operations Center in achieving full operational capability and coordinated with the JAF Directorate of Joint Training to write the operations plan for Eager Lion 2017, the largest training exercise in the U.S. Central Command area of operations.
Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear personnel conducted five combined exercises with joint CBRN and explosive ordnance disposal personnel, as well as Jordanian first responders. This included a four-day EOD exchange with the JAF EOD Officer School focused on knowledge of regional IED-defeat topics.
While working closely with the U.S. Embassy to establish long-term monitoring, sustainment, and interoperability-building programs, the CBRN section also completed 20 engagements with U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army CBRN units.
The TF 29 intelligence section participated in dozens of subject matter expert exchanges on Joint Operations and other topics with their JAF counterparts.
Meanwhile TF 29 engineers conducted more than 30 senior and key leader engagements of their own. In addition, the engineer section co-hosted a joint engineer, EOD and CBRN exchange seminar at the Royal Jordanian Engineer School House, led a combat engineer exchange at a remote border location, and developed terrain analysis map products for the JAF Border Guard Force engineer battalion.
The signal section not only provided day-to-day computer and information technology support to U.S. and coalition forces in Jordan, but its Soldiers trained with more than 50 of their Jordanian counterparts on IT-related tasks.
Field medicine, Individual First Aid Kit training, combat stress and resiliency, field sanitation and preventive medicine practices were among the topics of engagements the surgeon cell conducted with more than 200 junior and senior members of the JAF.
In order to provide U.S. and JAF legal professionals with an opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of each other's military, the TF 29 legal section planned, coordinated and hosted five joint legal symposiums on operational law and military justice with the JAF Director of Military Justice, JAF military judges, and U.S. Air Force Judge Advocates.
Finally, the unit ministry team conducted religious leader engagements with the JAF Grand Mufti and his staff in support of religious tolerance and combatting religious extremism. The UMT also coordinated trips to religious, cultural, and historical sites throughout Jordan, and provided religious and holiday services, Bible studies, spiritual resiliency messages, a 12-week financial seminar and morale activities supporting service member resilience.
"We are proud of our Soldiers and proud of the fact that the 29th ID will be remembered for having had such a large role in strengthening the long-standing U.S.-Jordan partnership," Nugent said.
However, the Soldiers of TF 29 realize their ability to build and strengthen that partnership with the Jordanians would never have been possible without the relationship they have with their loved ones back home.
"The support of our families and loved ones back home has been a big part of our success during this mission," Phillips said. "The sacrifices these Soldiers make to serve their country is matched by the ones made by their families and we can't thank them enough."