April 30, 2004
Soldiers of Task Force 429 continue the tradition and mission
By Lt. Col. Chester
FT. MEADE, Md. – Soldiers of the 429th Forward Support Battalion continue the tradition they began in February 2003 when their unit was validated as mission ready and they began their force protection mission at Ft. Meade, Md. They are among the approximately 600 29th Infantry Division Soldiers ordered to active federal service in January 2003 to provide force protection for Military District of Washington Army installations including Ft. Meade. While the units that were ordered to active federal service for the force protection mission were released from active duty around December 2003, some of the Soldiers from that mission continue to serve on active duty throughout Military District of Washington including 82 assigned to Task Force 429.
In technical terms the mission of Task Force 429 is To deter, detect, and defeat a terrorist and criminal threat to the installation's strategic, operational, and tactical high risk targets. Among other requirements these soldiers are responsible for screening vehicle traffic coming onto Ft. Meade. On an average weekday 20,000 vehicles come through Task Force 429 checkpoints. The Soldiers of Task Force 429 insure people in those vehicles have legitimate business at Ft Meade. They staff checkpoints at several different entry points, some 24 hours a day and others for limited periods during the day depending on the operational needs of the installation. The Soldiers take their mission seriously and go about accomplishing it with professionalism and dedication.
These Soldiers have served at Ft. Meade with distinction and have earned quite a reputation for themselves and the Virginia Army National Guard. In a recent article in the post's newspaper, Soundoff! the installation commander Col. John W. Ives is quoted as telling soldiers of Task Force 429, I could not say it any better or be any more proud. You serve as our ambassadors to the public. You are all great Americans and great Soldiers.
Capt. Jesse Morehouse, commander of Task Force 429, told Maj. Gen. Claude Williams during Williams' visit to Ft. Meade in April the 429th mobilized 130 soldiers for Operation Noble Eagle III with all soldiers successfully completing post mobilization requirements and deploying for their mission. The unit was evaluated as a GO on its first Military District of Washington Provost Marshal Office access control inspection and Ft. Meade was recognized by the Commanding General of the Military District of Washington as the model for access control in the National Capitol Region.
Morehouse also shared with Williams that the duty had not been limited to the force protection mission alone. The Solders and their leaders have used the mobilization as an opportunity to complete individual training that may not have otherwise taken place. Morehouse said that approximately 94% of the soldiers are now qualified in their duty position. The unit leadership has also been working with soldiers to retain them in the Virginia Army National Guard after they are released from active federal service. Actions include assuring the Soldiers their mission is important and their work is appreciated; leaders are working to create a climate based on respect where soldiers feel like their leaders care about them; and leaders are working to identify potential retention issues and eliminate them.
The leaders of Task Force 429 also have a proactive family support initiative in place. A monthly Task Force newsletter keeps Soldiers and their families up to date on what is happening in the unit, both at Ft. Meade and at the unit's home station. Birthday and anniversary cards are sent to families. And family support group activities are conducted at the unit's home armories.
The dedication and professionalism of the Soldiers of Task Force 429 is attested to in their accomplishments and the way the go about their mission. While this mobilization has had an impact on the Soldiers, their families, and their employers, the Soldiers have played a significant role in insuring the safety and well being of the thousands of soldiers, civilians, retirees, and others who come on to Ft. Meade every day.