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Virginia National Guard task force begins federal active duty for African security mission

State and federal elected officials and senior military leaders join families, friends and fellow Soldiers to mark the official start of federal active duty for Task Force Red Dragon Nov. 27, 2021, at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia. More than 1,000 Virginia and Kentucky Army National Guard Soldiers are mobilizing as Task Force Red Dragon under the command of the Lynchburg-based 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, to provide a security force in support of Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa. It is the largest VNG single-unit mobilization since World War II. The Troutville-based 29th Infantry Division Band provided music for the ceremony, and members of the Virginia Defense Force volunteered their time to assist with traffic management and parking. Read more about the TF Red Dragon federal active duty mobilization at go.usa.gov/xFK9K. (U.S. National Guard photo by Cotton Puryear)

BEDFORD, Va. (WFXR) – State and federal elected officials along with senior military leaders, joined families, friends and fellow soldiers to mark the official start of federal active duty for over 1,000 National Guard Soldiers from Virginia and Kentucky on Saturday at departure ceremonies at Bedford’s D-Day Memorial as well as a ceremony in Lexington, Kentucky.

Virginia units from Bedford, Charlottesville, Lexington, Pulaski and Suffolk as well as the Kentucky unit mobilized as Task Force Red Dragon – under the command of the Lynchburg-based 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, to provide a security force in support of Combined Joint Task Force, Horn of Africa.

This is the largest Virginia National Guard single mobilization since World War II.

(U.S. National Guard photo by Cotton Puryear)

“I am so proud to have served as your commander in chief. On behalf of a grateful Commonwealth of Virginia, I say thank you.”

Gov. Ralph Northam (D-VA)

The National D-Day Memorial was chosen as the site of the departure ceremony due to the connection the 116th Infantry Regiment has with the Memorial which honors those who fought and died in one of the most significant battles in American history.

When the 116th was activated as part of the 29th Infantry Division on Feb. 3, 1941, many communities in Virginia provided soldiers to serve in the division.


Bedford provided soldiers to serve in Company A, 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division.


During the assault on Omaha Beach, 19 of the “Bedford Boys” of Company A died.



Bedford’s population in 1944 was around 3,200 which proportionally resulted in the nation’s most severe D-Day loss being from Bedford.


The soldiers join the Virginia National Guard’s Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division and Virginia Beach-based 329 Regional Support Group already serving on federal active duty in the Middle East.


Additional units will mobilize in the coming months.


By January 2022, more than 2,000 Virginia National Guard personnel will be mobilized – the most since the Iraq surge in 2007.


When you combine those soldiers with the National Guard soldiers from Maryland and Kentucky who are serving in the 29th Infantry Division, it’s the most soldiers that the division has mobilized since 1942.


The following Virginia and Kentucky Army National Guard Units are mobilizing as Task Force Red Dragon:


Lynchburg-based Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team
Bedford-based Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Comba Team
Lexington-based Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team
Pulaski-based Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team
Lynchburg-based Golf Company, 429th Brigade Support Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team
Suffolk-based Bravo Troop, 2nd Squadron, 183 Cavalry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team
Charlottesville-based Alpha Company, 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team
The Kentucky Army National Guard’s Somerset, Kentucky-based Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team