Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division to mobilize on federal active duty

A National Guard Soldier assigned to the Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division conducts pre-mobilization training Oct. 19, 2016, at Fort Pickett, Virginia. More than 450 Virginia and Maryland Army National Guard Soldiers are scheduled to begin federal active duty in late October to support Operation Spartan Shield in the Middle East. (Photo by Sgt. Amanda H. Johnson, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

A National Guard Soldier assigned to the Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division conducts pre-mobilization training Oct. 19, 2016, at Fort Pickett, Virginia. More than 450 Virginia and Maryland Army National Guard Soldiers are scheduled to begin federal active duty in late October to support Operation Spartan Shield in the Middle East. (Photo by Sgt. Amanda H. Johnson, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

FORT BELVOIR, Va. — More than 450 Virginia and Maryland Army National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division are mobilizing for federal active duty in the Middle East and will conduct a departure ceremony at 11 a.m. on Oct. 30, 2016, at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. The 29th ID is mobilizing to provide mission command for more than 18,000 United States Army Central/Third Army Soldiers supporting Operation Spartan Shield and theater security cooperation in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. This will be the largest number of troops the 29th ID has led since World War II. If needed, the 29th ID would be prepared to conduct contingency operations and command forces to respond to any threats in the CENTCOM area of responsibility.

“This is an historic deployment and tremendous opportunity for the 29th Infantry Division as we take on mission command of forces in the Central Command area of operations,” said Brig. Gen. Blake Ortner, commander of the division. “The 29th was selected due in large part to the exceptional duty performance displayed by our Soldiers in previous exercises and training. I have great confidence in the professionalism, experience and abilities of the men and women of the 29th, and I know we are well prepared for any challenges that we might face.”

The Soldiers are conducting training at Fort Pickett for about two weeks prior to the departure ceremony, then they will train for approximately 30-45 days in Texas before they head overseas.

While based at Fort Belvoir, Soldiers assigned to the 29th Infantry Division live all throughout Virginia and Maryland.

Operation Spartan Shield is a CENTCOM operation focused on maintaining U.S. forces within theater in order to execute any number of contingency plans. It further enhances relationships and interoperability with regional partners through the conduct of bilateral and multilateral security cooperation exercises.

U. S. Central Command directs and enables military operations and activities with allies and partners to increase regional security and stability in support of enduring U.S. interests and is responsible for U.S. security interests in 20 nations, stretching through the Arabian Gulf region into Central Asia. Read more about CENTCOM at http://www.centcom.mil/ABOUT-US/.

U.S. Army Central conducts shaping operations in the U. S. Central Command area of responsibility to deter adversaries in order to reassure and enable partners, while sustaining ongoing U.S. operations in established Combined Joint Operating Areas. Read more about ARCENT at http://www.usarcent.army.mil/About-USARCENT/.

Mission command is the term the U.S. Army uses to describe the headquarters that provides direction and intent to subordinate units in order for them to carry out their mission. That headquarters also provides guidance and coordination for personnel, intelligence, sustainment and communications support. USARCENT shapes the CENTCOM area of responsibility in order to support operations against extremists, assure access, build partner capacity, develop relationships, and deter adversaries while providing a mission command capability that can set the theater and execute unified land operations in support of Combatant Commander requirements.

Theater security cooperation is focused on maintaining or improving relationships with countries within the CENTCOM area of responsibility through partnering in exercises that promote military to military engagements. Each year USARCENT conducts approximately 400 events in 20 partner nations. These events build trust and interoperability, and that gives the U.S. not only military access, but also business and cultural access.

Approximately 80 Virginia and Maryland Guard Soldiers assigned to the 29th Infantry Division began federal active duty Aug. 1, and are providing mission command in the Middle East in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. The group of Soldiers, also known as Task Force 29, are expected to serve on federal active duty for up to 12 months.

The mobilization is another example of the importance of the Guard and Reserve in the U. S. Army’s ability to meet force requirements across the globe. According to an article in the Defense News, Gen. Robert Abrams, commander of Forces Command, stressed that the Army can’t meet those requirements alone.

“It takes all 980,000 of us,” Abrams said during the Association of the United States Army annual meeting. “Now, possibly more than ever, the readiness of the Guard and Reserve is crucial.”

Last year, there were zero Army National Guard division headquarters deployed, he said. In addition to the 29th ID preparing for its deployment, the Texas National Guard’s 36th Infantry Division is preparing for a deployment to Afghanistan.

“Both the 36th and 29th Infantry Divisions are filling critical roles in support of our combatant commanders,” Abrams said.

With the additional 29th ID Soldiers, the Virginia National Guard will have more than 1,000 Soldiers and Airmen serving on federal active duty. Since Sept. 11, 2001, more than 15,000 Virginia Soldiers and Airmen have mobilized on federal active duty for homeland security missions and combat operations, sustainment support and peacekeeping in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo and other locations around the world.

Additional information on the 29th Infantry Division:

Soldiers from 29th Infantry Division traveled to Europe to participate in Exercise Saber Strike 16 June 4-22, 2016, in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania where they served as an exercise control cell and managed many of the support functions and tracking the training requirements for different units going through the exercise. They ensured all units met their training objectives and reallocated resources during the exercise to achieve training objectives.

More than 400 Maryland and Virginia Army National Guard Soldiers from the 29th Infantry Division joined with National Guard and active duty Soldiers from around the country, as well as active duty and Air National Guard Airmen, for a nine-day warfighter exercise Nov. 13-22, 2015, at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, where they received high praise for their outstanding performance during the exercise.

Maryland and Virginia National Guard Soldiers in the 29th Infantry Division served in 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.

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.

Formed in 1917, the 29th Infantry Division deployed to France during World War I and saw action in the First United States Army’s Meuse-Argonne offensive as part of the French XVII Corps. In World War II, the 29th Division was in the first wave of troops to storm the beaches of Normandy and begin the liberation of France.

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29th Infantry Division Soldiers begin federal active duty – Aug. 2, 2016
http://vaguard.dodlive.mil/2016/08/02/9037/

29th ID leads multinational exercise, Saber Strike 16 – July 11, 2016
http://vaguard.dodlive.mil/2016/07/11/8964/

29th ID tested at Warfighter 16-2 – Nov. 26, 2015
http://vaguard.dodlive.mil/2015/11/26/8338/

29th ID Soldiers return to Virginia after federal duty in Afghanistan – July 14, 2012
http://vaguard.dodlive.mil/2012/07/14/1572/

Soldiers from 29th Infantry Division return from duty in Afghanistan – Oct. 27, 2011 http://vko.va.ngb.army.mil/virginiaguard/news/oct11/29idspreturn.html

Virginia Guard Soldiers end mission in Kosovo – Nov. 5, 2007 http://vko.va.ngb.army.mil/virginiaguard/news/nov2007/KFORWrapUp.html