Va. Guard Soldiers assigned to Lynchburg-based infantry battalion to mobilize for overseas duty

Soldiers assigned to the Lynchburg-based 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team load a weapons rack for transport Feb. 5, 2016, in Lynchburg, Virginia. The Soldiers are preparing for their upcoming federal active duty mobilization during their monthly drill weekend. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

SANDSTON, Va. — The Virginia National Guard’s Lynchburg-based 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, also known as Task Force Red Dragon, has received a mobilization order to enter active federal service for duty in support of ongoing overseas contingency operations in the Central Command area of operations, according to an announcement made Feb. 4, 2015, by Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia. Approximately 450 Soldiers will begin serving on federal active duty May 13, 2016, and the mobilization is expected to be for about 12 months. They will replace the Virginia National Guard’s Winchester-based 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, also known as Task Force Normandy, currently conducting security operations in Qatar.

“The Soldiers of Task Force Red Dragon are great examples of Citizen-Soldier service,” Williams said. “They provided more than a quarter of the force we recently had on state active duty assisting first responders get through the heavy snow, and now they are conducting final preparations for overseas federal active duty. I am confident these Soldiers are going to do a magnificent job, and they will continue the high standards of duty performance set by Task Force Normandy.”

The battalion is headquartered in Lynchburg and Soldiers from units based in Bedford, Lexington and Christiansburg will mobilize for the mission.

Soldiers will conduct training 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.

The battalion will report to their mobilization station in Texas for approximately 30 to 45 days of additional training before deploying. Once they arrive at their duty location, they will operate as a security force providing access control, tower guards and other security support.

“The Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry have been rigorously training for the last two years culminating in the successful completion of the Army’s first-ever Multi-echelon Integrated Brigade Training exercise in Fort Drum, New York, this past summer,” said Lt. Col. Christopher J. Samulski, commander of 1st Battalion. “We are now ready and available to deploy in support of our nation, and the battalion is at the highest level of proficiency since its deployment to Iraq in 2010. We have a great combination of seasoned officers and noncommissioned officers with multiple deployments over the last 14 years. These experienced leaders will shepherd our newest Soldiers through the mobilization and deployment process. We look forward to entering active federal service, replacing our fellow Virginians in Task Force Normandy in Qatar, and continuing the strong legacy of the 116th Regiment and the Stonewall Brigade.”

Soldiers from 1st Battalion last served on federal active duty from March to August 2010. They operated out of Contingency Operating Base Adder in Southern Iraq with the mission of securing resupply convoys along the main supply routes in the central, southern and northern sectors of Iraq in order to prevent anti-Iraqi Forces from disrupting theater sustainment operations.

In October 2013, the battalion received the Walter T. Kerwin, Jr., Readiness Award recognizing them as the most combat-ready Army National Guard battalion in the country by the Association of the United States Army.

Soldiers from 1st Battalion have also conducted numerous state active duty missions supporting the citizens of the commonwealth. Most recently, more than 100 Soldiers from Task Force Red Dragon provided mobility assistance to get first responders through heavy snow to complete emergency calls.

The mobilization order called for an active-duty period not to exceed 400 days, but the Secretary of Defense can extend tours for operational needs not to exceed 24 months or 730 days.

More information on 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment:

1-116th Infantry recognized as top Army Guard battalion in the country – October 21, 2014
http://vaguard.dodlive.mil/2013/10/21/4546/

Virginia National Guard personnel assist in the wake of severe thunderstorms – July 11, 2012
http://vaguard.dodlive.mil/2012/07/11/1588/

Lynchburg-based infantry battalion returns to Virginia from Iraqi duty – Aug. 25, 2010
http://vko.va.ngb.army.mil/virginiaguard/news/aug10/1-116thVaReturn.html