First groups of 29th ID Soldiers return from federal duty in Kuwait

Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division reunite with family, friends and fellow Soldiers July 10, 2017, at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, after serving on federal active duty in Kuwait since November 2016.  (U. S. National Guard photo by Cotton Puryear)

FORT BELVOIR, Va. — The first groups of Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division returned to Virginia July 10, 2017, after serving on federal active duty since November 2016. The Soldiers served in the Middle East in support of Task Force Spartan Shield as the first intermediate division headquarters under U.S. Army Central Command.

During the deployment, the 29th ID Soldiers provided mission command for joint training exercises and military-to-military engagements with partner nations to promote regional stability and theater security cooperation.

Senior leaders from state government and the Virginia National Guard greeted Soldiers when they arrived at Dulles Airport, then the Soldiers reunited with family, friends and fellow Soldiers at Fort Belvoir and Sandston.

A formal transfer of authority with the 35th Infantry Division is scheduled for July 13, and the remaining 29th ID Soldiers will return after that.

The 29th established a new command, Task Force Spartan, under U.S. Army Central with the mission of providing stability and deterring aggression in the region by building partner capacity, preparing to conduct unified land operations and ensuring the readiness of the approximately 10,000 Soldiers assigned to the mission.

In its first century, the 29th Inf. Div. headquarters has deployed to Europe twice for World Wars I and II, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and now Kuwait.

The division’s mission as Task Force Spartan in Kuwait highlights the vital role played by Army National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers in operations around the world. Since it was established last December, Task Force Spartan has conducted over 1,300 military-to-military engagements, planned, and executed 15 bilateral and multilateral exercises in 10 countries, coordinated and executed 17 minor military construction projects, and completed over 30 project assessments.

Additionally, the 29th introduced new capabilities, such as its Cyberspace Electromagnetic Activities cell, and established new network infrastructure to enable the division staff to communicate.

“As the old cadence goes, ‘around the world and back again,’ … we’ve come around the world, and done our jobs well, this opportunity has been an incredible experience and now we’re ready to get home,” said Maj. Gen. Blake Ortner, 29th Infantry Division commander.

Story by U.S. Army Capt. Scott Campbell, 29th Infantry Division Public Affairs

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