CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti – Two storied National Guard units came together to transfer control of the continuing security mission in East Africa.
U.S. Army National Guard Col. Jim Tierney, the 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, Task Force Red Dragon commander, cased the battalion’s flag to signify the unit handing the responsibility of the mission over to the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment, Task Force Wolfhound, during a transfer-of-authority ceremony at Camp Lemonnier Sept. 19.
Each unit traces its lineage back to the Civil War, and both courageously fought at the battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg.
“Task Force Red Dragon, your accomplishments and sacrifices only add excellence to your already distinguished heritage,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Jami Shawley, commanding general of Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA). “There is no doubt that you have brought great credit to your unit, CJTF-HOA, and the United States Army.
“We now welcome Task Force Wolfhound,” Shawley said. “With your distinguished legacy, you now carry the burden forward.”
Task Force Wolfhound now has the mission of providing security support at five installations across three East African countries. In addition to conventional security operations, the task force will be responsible for manning the East African Response Force, or EARF.
Created in the wake of the 2012 attack in Benghazi, the EARF stands ready to rapidly respond to crises throughout East Africa and safeguard U.S. interests. Task Force Wolfhound Soldiers will now train extensively to maintain EARF capabilities.
During the ceremony, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Shawn Tabankin, the 1-69th Infantry commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Jason Zeller, the 1-69th Infantry senior enlisted leader, unfurled the unit’s colors — signifying Task Force Wolfhound assuming leadership of a security mission as part of CJTF-HOA.
As the largest U.S. tactical unit on the continent of Africa, the security task force makes up more than two-thirds of the CJTF-HOA force. It is critical to providing security and building partnerships throughout East Africa to support U.S. Africa Command.
“Today, we assume our part of the CJTF-HOA Mission,” Tabankin said. “We look forward to working with our allies and African partners, to be their partner of choice.”
The deployment of the 1-69th Infantry to Africa marks the unit’s first overseas mobilization since deploying to Baghdad, Iraq, in 2004 during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Hailing from New York City to Niagara Falls, the task force comprises more than 1,100 New York Army National Guard Soldiers from nine companies.
As part of CJTF-HOA, Task Force Wolfhound will closely cooperate with Djiboutian, French, Japanese, Italian, Spanish and many African partners.
“We are prepared to respond to any crisis,” Tabankin said. “We will work by, with and through our African partners to achieve our common goals.”