FORT BELVOIR, Va. — Ten Virginia National Guard Soldiers from the Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division are currently mobilized in Southwest Asia in support of Operation Inherent Resolve and U.S. Central Command efforts as members of Combined Joint Interagency Task Force, Syria. They are operating as an engineer team conducting construction project management and contracting efforts throughout the area of operations and as an administrative team supporting personnel actions for Army forces deployed to forward positions throughout the region.
“With very short notice, our teams were able to assemble, initiate training and mobilize overseas,” explained Lt. Col. Edmund Sabo, officer in charge of the teams. “This demonstrates the Virginia National Guard’s ability as a ready and rapid response force, able to answer our nation’s call when the mission requires.”
The engineer team includes Capt. Scott Drugo, Capt. Ryan Miner, Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Voelkel and Sgt. 1st Class Andrew Doane. The administrative team includes Sgt. Erika Grimm, Sgt. Joshua Hooker, Spc. Derek Scott, Spc. Xavier Henry and Spc. Tahliyah Bogans.
“I think getting the short notice of the deployment was actually easier for me,” Drugo said. “Typically a Guard Soldier has months to prepare but this mission popped up on the radar quickly. Having a supportive family and an understanding employer made the preparation for this deployment smooth. I am looking forward to the mission and representing the Virginia Army National Guard in Southwest Asia.”
“Having short notice of this mission proves that we are true Minutemen,” Doane said.
The CJIATF-S mission is a unique one and calls for the integration of multiple partner nations, all branches of the U.S. armed services, several U.S. government agencies, and some of the most experienced service members the nation has to offer, all focused on bringing stability and fighting current threats in a very complex region of the world.
The Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division is comprised of Soldiers from both the Maryland and Virginia Army National Guard. The division was established in 1917, fought in World War I, was part of the first assault wave during D-Day on June 6, 1944, participated in peacekeeping missions in Bosnia and Kosovo and served a two-tour rotation in Afghanistan from 2010-2012.
In addition to its combat training, the 29th Infantry Division currently provides the Domestic All-Hazards Response Team in FEMA Regions 1 through 5 (states east of the Mississippi). In this role, the 29th is prepared to assist the National Guard and governors during a natural or man-made incident. For fiscal years 2016 and 2017, the 29th Infantry Division will serve as headquarters for Command and Control Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Response Element-B. The division will provide staff augmentation and support in the event of a catastrophic chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear emergency.