Ceremony marks start of federal duty for Task Force Normandy

Lt. Col. Kurt K. Kobernik, commander of Task Force Normandy, and Command Sgt. Maj. Alvin N. Martin, the task force command sergeant major, case the unit's organizational colors to signify their departure from Virginia at a ceremony held Sept. 9, 2015 at Fort A. P. Hill, Va. The colors will be uncased when they begin their federal active duty mission in Qatar.  (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office)

Lt. Col. Kurt K. Kobernik, commander of Task Force Normandy, and Command Sgt. Maj. Alvin N. Martin, the task force command sergeant major, case the unit’s organizational colors to signify their departure from Virginia at a ceremony held Sept. 9, 2015 at Fort A. P. Hill, Va. The colors will be uncased when they begin their federal active duty mission in Qatar. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office)

FORT A. P. Hill, Va. — More than 450 Soldiers from the Virginia National Guard’s Winchester-based 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team marked the start of their federal active service at a departure ceremony Sept. 9, 2015, at Fort A. P. Hill, Va. The battalion, also known as Task Force Normandy, is made up of units from around the state, and they are scheduled to deploy to Qatar where they are expected to conduct security missions in support of contingency operations in the region. The mobilization is expected to be for about 12 months.

Lt. Col. Kurt K. Kobernik, commander of Task Force Normandy, and Command Sgt. Maj. Alvin N. Martin, the battalion command sergeant major, cased the unit’s organizational colors to signify the unit’s departure from Virginia, and the colors will be uncased when they begin their mission in Qatar.

“Task Force Normandy stands in front of you due in large part to the strong sense of duty of our Soldiers and their families, as well as the great vision, leadership and commitment of the command team of the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and the Virginia National Guard State Headquarters,” Kobernik said. “Their tenacity and expertise helped set conditions for successful preparations in such a short window of time.”

Normally units receive anywhere between six and 18 months notice to mobilize for federal active duty, but 3rd Battalion received less than 120 days notification.

“Due to the short notice, the leadership and I laid out a clear path on how would make this a cohesive team from disparate organizations, a team that shares the same vision and do this all in less than 120 days,” he said.

Kobernik said the successful integration was the result of “fantastic leadership at the company, platoon and squad level” as well as superior work by the battalion staff.

“It is this kind of dedication to duty that all the Soldiers and leaders of the task force demonstrated in all that they do, and it reinforces my belief that we can take on any challenge,” he said. “You should feel a sense of pride in the unit. I know I do.”

Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran joined Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, and Col. William J. Coffin, commander of the 116th IBCT, in thanking the Soldiers for their service and expressed their appreciation to families for their support of the unit’s mission.

“Your professionalism and your dedication our commonwealth and our nation is inspiring to us all,” Moran said. “It is my privileged to say thank you on behalf of Governor Terry McAuliffe and more than eight million fellow Virginians.”

Moran recounted the federal mobilizations for 3rd Battalion in recent years and said, “Much has been asked of 3rd Battalion, and they have answered the call every time. They could not do this with the support of families and communities,” Moran said. “You represent the best of us, and these Soldiers and families have met all the challenges and are mission ready.”

Coffin echoed Moran’s praise of the unit.

“The men and women you see standing in formation represent our best citizen-Soldiers, ready to go into harms way and support our nation’s efforts overseas,” he said. “Soldiers from every battalion in the brigade are taking part in this mission, and they show us the best things the Army stands for.”

The next step on the battalion’s journey is to report to Fort Bliss, Texas, for approximately 30 to 45 days of additional mobilization training. From there they will deploy to Qatar, and they are expected to operate as a security force providing access control, tower guards and other security support.

“I am very proud of these fine Soldiers, but their families are also very deserving of recognition,” Kobernik said. “You are the ones who keep the household going while we are deployed. We acknowledge your sacrifice, and our family and friends are the source of comfort and hope that keep us going in our most challenging days.”

Kobernik stressed to the families the importance of using the resources available to them through the Family Readiness Groups, and Moran, Williams and Coffin all emphasized the support available as well from the brigade and state level.

“There are many challenges that lay ahead of, but I know the Soldiers of Task Force Normandy will succeed in all they set out to do,” Kobernik said. “Your sense of duty and selfless service will be the legacy you leave.”

The battalion is headquartered in Winchester and is made up of the following company-level units:

– Soldiers assigned to the Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment and Company F, 429th Brigade Support Battalion based in Winchester
– Soldiers assigned to Company B, 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment based in Woodstock with additional Soldiers assigned to the detachment in Warrenton
– Soldiers assigned to Company C, 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment based in Leesburg
– Soldiers assigned to Troop B, 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment based in Suffolk

Soldiers from Company A, 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment based in Charlottesville with a detachment in Harrisonburg as well as about Soldiers assigned to Company D, 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment based in Fredericksburg will also take part in the mission and deploy with the battalion.

Soldiers trained at Fort Pickett for about three weeks to accomplish a number of administrative and field training tasks to prepare for the mobilization including weapons qualification, equipment issue and medical evaluation. Read more about the battalion’s training at http://vaguard.dodlive.mil/2015/07/28/7789/.

Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry mobilized for federal duty in Afghanistan from March 2004 to July 2005, and mobilized for duty in Iraq and Kuwait from September 2007 to May 2008.

Soldiers from Troop B last deployed to Iraq from August 2011 to December 2011 as part of Task Force 183 where they conducted convoy security operations in support of Operation New Dawn.

Soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, Company F and Troop B have also supported numerous state active duty missions in support of snowstorms and other hazard weather conditions.

The Covington-based 29th Division Band provided ceremonial music for the ceremony.