Nov. 30, 2010

29th Infantry Division Soldiers validated for Afghanistan mission

By Lt. Col. Tim Donnellan
29th Infantry Division

CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. — Virginia and Maryland National Guard Soldiers from the 29th Infantry Division were officially validated Nov. 29 for federal active duty in Afghanistan after three weeks of training.


Col. William O'Neil, senior officer of the 29th Infantry Division Soldiers headed to Afghanistan, presents a certification of validation plaque from Camp Atterbury to Maj. Gen. Frank E. Batts, Jr., commander of the 29th Infantry Division, during Batts's visit Nov. 29. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia Department of Military Affairs)

The Soldiers are part of what is formerly known as the Afghanistan National Security Assistance Development Team and now goes by the new name of Security Partnering. 

“The new title is really appropriate because establishing a safe and secure environment is essential to Afghanistan’s self-governance,” said Lt. Col. John Wranek, the division engineer officer.

The mission will be to provide subject matter expertise and conduct training and assessment of Afghan Police and Military Personnel. The unit began federal duty Nov. 1 and is scheduled for a 12-month deployment.

“Salaam, chutoor hastee,” said Staff Sgt. Ryan Yancey during language and cultural awareness class. The phrase means, “Hello, how are you?” in Dhari, the national language of The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, commonly known as Afghanistan. The class was part of the three-week deployment validation for members of the 29th Infantry Division. 

Yancey and other members of the 29th Infantry Division successfully completed deployment validation in preparation for deployment to Afghanistan held at Camp Atterbury. The training included cultural awareness, Centrixs computer, Dhari language and Category II collective tasks.   The training was highlighted by a three-day Culminating Training Exercise, and the Soldiers also received training on convoy live-fire ops and counterinsurgency.

The unit was assisted in training by two officers from the Vermont National Guard that is being replaced by the members of the 29th. Their real-world experience was vital to the training.

“I feel very confident in the abilities of this unit and you are better prepared than my unit was for this deployment because you can benefit from our experiences,” said Maj. Randy Gates from the Vermont National Guard. “Being exposed to a new computer system and being able to communicate with our partners in Afghanistan was a great experience and really gives us the ability to 'hit the ground running.'”

“I couldn’t be happier with what I have seen so far with this group and your training,” said Maj. Gen. Frank E. Batts, Jr., commander of the 29th Infantry Division. “You have a great diversity in civilian-acquired skills and military skills as well as experience. I think you are going to set a precedent for what is expected for this kind of unit. You will set a high bar and do well.”

Batts and Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia, visited Camp Atterbury Nov. 29 to meet with Soldiers before they departed for Afghanistan.

“What you are about to do is very important, not just for Virginia or Maryland, but for the nation,” Long said. “I have heard a lot of great things about the Soldiers on this mission, and you bring a lot of great capabilities on this mission.”

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