Ceremony marks start of federal active duty for 116th Military Engagement Team

Governor Terry McAuliffe bids farewell to members of the 116th Military Engagement Team March 11, 2016, in Sandston, Virginia, along with other senior leaders, family members, friends and fellow Soldiers.  (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Governor Terry McAuliffe bids farewell to members of the 116th Military Engagement Team March 11, 2016, in Sandston, Virginia, along with other senior leaders, family members, friends and fellow Soldiers. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

SANDSTON, Va. — Senior leaders from state government and the Virginia National Guard joined family members, friends and fellow Soldiers in bidding farewell to the members of the Staunton-based 116th Military Engagement Team, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team March 11, 2016, in Sandston, Virginia, at a ceremony to mark their start of federal active duty. The team of approximately 25 Soldiers comes from units across the state, and during their federal mobilization the 116th MET will conduct military-to-military engagements with partners in U.S. Army Central Command’s area of responsibility including Kuwait, Jordan, Oman and Tajikistan.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, Virginia Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran, Deputy Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Adam K. Thiel, Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, and Col. William J. Coffin, commander of the 116th IBCT, were on hand to bid farewell to the Soldiers and thank them and their families for the service and sacrifice.

“Thank you for your service, both those in uniform and the families,” McAuliffe said. “On behalf of every Virginia resident, thank you for what you do for our commonwealth and for our nation.”

Williams put the team’s departure in a historical context.

“Today we are here with mixed emotions,” Williams said. “Proud of you and the hard work it has taken for you to get to this point. Proud of the mission that you have been tasked to do and proud of the legacy that you carry on. As you prepare to travel to Texas to continue your training, keep in mind that 100 years ago this week, your forbearers started their preparations to move out to Texas in response to the raids by Pancho Via in March 1916. Their duty in Texas helped them prepare for service in World War I and ushered in the the modern National Guard as we know it today.”

Williams also recognized the critical role families.

“You are the key to the Soldiers’ success,” he said. “Your task ahead is just as demanding, so please leverage our family services and let us know what we can do to help you.”

The departure ceremony marks the next phase the 116th MET, explained Col. Todd Hubbard, the team commander. The team first met in October 2015 and started to analyze the mission of the military engagement team and how they could best use the skills and experience of the team members to accomplish that mission.

“We saw the importance of building up our partner nations, improving their capabilities and ensuring interoperability across systems and procedures,” Hubbard said. “Our strengths of planning and collaboration and technical prowess will compliment their knowledge of the region, the relationships and the culture. Having strong partners makes us stronger.”

The team trained at Fort Pickett for three weeks from middle February to early March on a variety of different tasks to prepare for the upcoming mobilization. They learned how to keep themselves healthy during deployments and worked through the Combat Lifesaver Course where they learned life-saving battlefield medical procedures. They qualified on the M9 Pistol and also trained on Individual Movement Techniques, or IMT, that required the Soldiers to low crawl, high crawl and move tactically in pairs, teams and as squad-sized elements as well as how to throw hand grenades and set up and work an entry control point.

Trainers from the Army Culture Center visited the team and discussed cultural norms, behaviors and beliefs the 116th MET is likely to encounter while deployed, as well as lessons on the various languages spoken, how to effectively utilize an interpreter and other culturally relevant topics.

Soldiers from the Clifton Forge-based 29th Division Band provided music for the departure ceremony.

Additional reporting by Sgt. 1st Class Terra C. Gatti, 116th MET Public Affairs

View photos from the ceremony on the Virginia National Guard Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10153972405288560.1073742475.173715018559

More information on the 116th MET:

116th MET completes pre-mobilization training
http://vaguard.dodlive.mil/2016/03/11/8678/