Saturday, May 14, 2011

Sunday: Farewell to Staunton's 116th Brigade heading to Afghanistan

A farewell ceremony for the Virginia National Guard’s Staunton-based 116th Brigade Combat Team Headquarters will be held May 15 at 4 p.m. at the Shelburne Middle School gymnasium in Staunton to officially mark the start of federal active duty for approximately 175 Soldiers.

As our friends and neighbors prepare to deploy, let's turn out to thank them for their service and wish them well.

The unit will serve as a command and control headquarters for counter-insurgency operations in Afghanistan. Before deploying to Afghanistan, the unit will report to Camp Shelby, Miss. to conduct training for approximately 45 to 60 days.

The Soldiers of the 116th BCT Headquarters prepared for the mobilization with little more than 60 days of advance notice.

The Headquarters will not mobilize with its normally assigned subordinate battalions from Virginia, but would instead provide command and control for active Army and coalition units upon its arrival in Afghanistan. With the U. S. Army’s system of modular unit organization, a brigade combat team headquarters can be mobilized on its own and be assigned three to five subordinate combat arms battalions as well as artillery and support battalions in order to conduct operations.

While headquartered in Staunton, the 116th BCT Headquarters is made up of Soldiers from all over the state. Approximately 35 Soldiers are from the northern Virginia area, about 25 are from the Hampton Roads area, approximately 20 are from the Richmond and Petersburg area, about 20 are from the Staunton and Harrisonburg area, approximately 15 are from the Roanoke area, about 10 are from the Lynchburg area, approximately 10 are from the Charlottesville and central Virginia area and the other Soldiers are from various locations across Virginia as well as West Virginia, South Carolina and North Carolina.

The 116th Brigade Combat Team Headquarters last mobilized for active federal duty in Iraq from June 2007 to February 2008 where it served as the Joint Area Support Group in downtown Baghdad. The Joint Area Support Group controlled and coordinated all security and infrastructure for the U.S. Embassy Zone in Baghdad. The headquarters also tracked operations for two subordinate battalions and two separate companies assigned to the 116th operating elsewhere in Iraq and Kuwait.

Since the unit’s return from Iraq in 2008, it has fielded a wide range of new equipment, including the Army’s state-of-the-art digital command post system.

--From the Virginia National Guard

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