Nov. 5, 2009
Lynchburg-based National Guard infantry battalion ordered to mobilize for active duty
RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia National Guard’s Lynchburg-based 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Brigade Combat Team has received a mobilization order to enter federal active duty in January 2010, according to an announcement made Nov. 5 by Maj. Gen. Robert B. Newman, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia. Newman said that approximately 400 Soldiers will begin serving on federal active duty Jan. 5, 2010 with a security force mission in Iraq. The unit is scheduled to report to Camp Shelby, Miss. to conduct mobilization training for approximately 45 to 60 days before deploying to Iraq.
“National Guard Bureau asked the Virginia Army National Guard to provide Soldiers for a critical fill in a security force mission in Iraq, and based on their level of training and readiness, we asked the leadership of 1st Battalion to assess their ability take on this important mission,” Newman said. “Once we determined they were able to take on the mission, we worked with National Guard Bureau to move quickly through the mobilization process to get the official mobilization order.”
As operations in Iraq are evolving, there is still a need to perform security missions in order to provide for the safety of our men and women in uniform, Newman said. The Pentagon announced Oct. 8 that roughly 15,000 personnel in four units will rotate into Iraq next summer as "advisory and assistance brigades" for 12 month tours.
The mobilization order calls for the official mobilization of the Lynchburg-based Headquarters Company, the Bedford and Farmville-base A Company and the Lexington and Clifton Forge-based B Company. Soldiers from the Christiansburg and Radford-based C Company and the Pulaski and Martinsville-based D Company could also be called upon to mobilize with the battalion.
The unit leadership received notification of the possibility of the deployment in early October and notified all of their Soldiers by phone about the possibility of the mobilization, explained Lt. Col. Scott Smith, commander of 1st Battalion. The unit conducted special training assemblies for Soldiers and their families to answer questions and conduct initial readiness processing activities like reviewing personnel and medical records.
Soldiers from 1st Battalion are no strangers to stepping up to answer the call of duty. Right after their drill weekend in February 2008 welcoming Soldiers back from a year of duty in Kosovo, more than 100 Soldiers went on state active duty to assist with the firefighting efforts in Southwest Virginia. Soldiers from the battalion also geared up to provide support in anticipation of Tropical Storm Hanna in early September 2008. Approximately 250 Soldiers assisted the Secret Service with the operation of security checkpoints along the President Obama inauguration parade route.
The battalion last mobilized for peacekeeping duty in Kosovo from August 2006 to November 2007. The battalion was also mobilized for duty at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba from November 2002 to September 2003, and individual Soldiers currently assigned the battalion have taken part in Virginia Guard mobilizations to Afghanistan and Iraq over the past few years.
The mobilization orders call for an active duty period not to exceed 400 days, but the Secretary of Defense can extend tours for operational needs not to exceed 24 months or 730 days.