Fort A.P. Hill, Va. – Virginia and Maryland National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division officially begin federal active duty with a casing of the colors ceremony May 15, 2021, on Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, and they will uncase the colors when they arrive in the Middle East. More than 500 Soldiers of the 29th will conduct a 10-month deployment in the Central Command Area of Operations as Task Force Spartan to provide leadership, command, control and in-depth staff analysis for Operation Spartan Shield.
Maj. Gen. John M. Rhodes and Command Sgt. Maj. Daryl Plude, the 29th Infantry Division command team, cased the colors signifying the official start of the unit’s mission.
“The blue and grey patch we proudly wear on our left shoulder has its own story, and today we add another chapter to the history of the 29th,” Rhodes said. “The 29th Infantry Division is comprised of proven ready forces, and they are carrying on the traditions of those who went before us. We are proud to represent our nation, our home states and the National Guard.”
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia delivered remarks during the ceremony, recognizing the service and sacrifice of the troops as they leave their friends, families and jobs to deploy overseas.
“On behalf of the Commonwealth of Virginia and on behalf of the state of Maryland, I just want to let you know how proud we are of all of you,” Northam said. He acknowledged what a difficult and challenging year it has been for everyone and thanked the National Guard for their COVID-19 response as well as support civilian law enforcement. He also recognized the important support from families and thanked them for their critical role in the VNG’s mission.
“This past year has presented its share of challenge, and everyone here in this formation has proven yourself to be determined, agile and more than up to task for which you are presented today,” Williams said. “Your mobilization puts us on a path to mobilize more Soldiers since 2007. The Guard’s ability to respond relies on three key elements: our great Soldiers, our great families and our great employers. Each plays a key role in our state and nation’s defense. Without all of you, the National Guard could not accomplish our missions at home and abroad.”
According to their official web site, Task Force Spartan is a unique, multi-component organization, made up of active Army and National Guard units, rounded out by U.S. Army Reserve support units. Through Operation Spartan Shield, Task Force Spartan maintains a U.S. military posture in Southwest Asia sufficient to strengthen our defense relationships and build partner capacity. Units supporting OSS provide capabilities such as aviation, logistics, force protection and information management, and facilitate theater security cooperation activities such as key leader engagements, joint exercises, conferences, symposia and humanitarian assistance/disaster response planning. Soldiers of the Texas National Guard’s 36th Infantry Division currently serve as Task Force Spartan.
Soldiers conducted mobilization training in Maryland and Virginia and now report to Fort Hood, Texas, for the final mobilization training and will deploy from there.
This is the second time in recent years the 29th ID has deployed as Task Force Spartan with Soldiers serving on federal active duty from November 2016 to July 2017. They were the first intermediate division headquarters under U.S. Army Central Command and provided mission command for joint training exercises and military-to-military engagements with partner nations to promote regional stability and theater security cooperation. Read more at https://go.usa.gov/xA5xC.
Task Force Spartan web site:
About the 29th Infantry Division:
Known as the Blue and Gray Division, the 29th Infantry Division is an Army National Guard operational-level headquarters located at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Its origins date back to World War I and is most known for its participation in the D-Day landings at Omaha Beach in World War II. Its wartime mission is to provide mission command to subordinate brigades and forces tailored for an assigned mission. It is one of eight divisions in the Army National Guard.
The 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, the 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment and the 29th Infantry Band are aligned under the 29th. The division currently has training relationships with the 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team from Florida and Alabama, the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team from North Carolina and West Virginia, the 29th Combat Aviation Brigade from Maryland, the 226th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade from Alabama, the 113th Sustainment Brigade from North Carolina and the 142nd Fires Brigade from Arkansas.
From October 2001 to April 2002, the 29th Infantry Division was mobilized on federal active duty as the headquarters for Multinational Division (North), Task Force Eagle, in Bosnia-Herzegovina for the 10th rotation of NATO’s peace stabilization forces known as the NATO led Stabilization Force. Task Force Eagle provided command and control for units from the Army National Guard as well as forces from more than 11 other nations.
Maryland and Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the 29th Infantry Division served on federal active duty in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2012 when they conducted two rotations assigned to NATO’s International Security Assistance Force Joint Command Afghan National Security Force Development Team. During that time they served as advisers and mentors to senior Afghan leaders with the mission to provide Afghan national army and national police subject matter expertise to facilitate ANSF growth and development.
Prior to their service in Afghanistan, Maryland and Virginia Soldiers from the 29th Infantry Division deployed overseas for peace-keeping duty in Kosovo from August 2006 to November 2007.
Soldiers of the 29th assisted federal agencies in securing the nation’s capital during the 59th Presidential Inauguration and were among more than 25,000 National Guard members from 50 states and three territories who were activated to support the inauguration by augmenting the Capitol Police, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Park Police and D.C. Metro Police Department. They led a task force of more than 9,000 personnel from 24 states that was responsible for securing property at the U.S. Capitol, protecting government employees, providing logistical support, staffing traffic control points and providing crowd management.
Photos on Flickr: