Sept. 14, 2011

Virginia and Maryland Soldiers from 29th Infantry Division begin federal active duty for Afghanistan mission

By Cotton Puryear      
Virginia Department of Military Affairs

FORT BELVOIR, Va. -- The Virginia National Guard’s Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division held a departure ceremony Sept. 12 for the Soldiers taking part in the unit’s federal mobilization for the Security Partnering mission in Afghanistan. The Soldiers officially began federal active duty Sept. 11.

 

Soldiers from the Virginia National Guard’s Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division take part in a departure ceremony Sept. 12 on Fort Belvoir's Long Parade Field. A group of approximately 30 Virginia National Guard Soldiers combined with approximately 35 Soldiers from the Maryland National Guard began federal active duty Sept. 11 for the Afghanistan Security Partnering mission. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia Department of Military Affairs)

Click HERE to see more photos from the ceremony.

The Security Partnering Team consists of approximately 30 Virginia National Guard Soldiers combined with approximately 35 Soldiers from the Maryland National Guard. The Soldiers will replace a group of Maryland and Virginia National Guard Soldiers currently serving in Afghanistan who began their federal active duty Nov. 1, 2010.

The Virginia contingent is comprised of Soldiers assigned to the 29th Infantry Division augmented by Soldiers from Joint Forces Headquarters and other units across Virginia. The Soldiers will spend several weeks conducting pre-mobilization training at Camp Shelby, Miss. before deploying to Afghanistan, and the mobilization is expected to last one year.

“I had a chance to talk with family members, and it is really neat to see the pride in their eyes as they talk to you about the men and woman in front of us,” Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia, told the audience. Long said the group of 29th ID Soldiers currently serving in Afghanistan is doing great work, and he knew this group would continue on the same path.

“For the Soldiers performing this mission, I can’t tell you how proud I am,” said Brig. Gen. Charles Whittington, director of the Security Partnering Team. “I have not been associated with a finer group of officers since I have been privileged enough to wear this uniform. I am absolutely excited and humbled to be working with you on this most important mission.” He also thanked the families for the support they give to the Soldiers during the mission.

The Security Partnering Team will fall under the command and control of the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command in Afghanistan. Their mission will be to resource, facilitate and assess training for the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police. Soldiers from the 29th Infantry Division will provide subject matter expertise in support of the mission.

The 29th Infantry Division is comprised of Soldiers from the Virginia Army National Guard and the Maryland Army National Guard. Of the Virginia Soldiers mobilizing, approximately six are from the Richmond and Petersburg area, about five are from the Northern Virginia area, approximately four are from the Fredericksburg area, about three are from the Hampton Roads area and the remaining are from various locations across the state.

In addition to the Soldiers from the 29th Infantry Division who are currently serving Afghanistan, Soldiers from the 29th last deployed overseas for peace-keeping duty in Kosovo from August 2006 to November 2007.

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