An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : News : Article View
NEWS | April 8, 2022

Task Force Red Dragon Soldiers join French-led WAKRI 22

By Senior Airman Blake Wiles, Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa

CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti – Virginia and Kentucky National Guard Soldiers assigned to Task Force Red Dragon serving in Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa joined French Armed Forces and units from Camp Lemonnier March 13-15 for Exercise WAKRI 22.

WAKRI, the largest annual French-led exercise in Djibouti, provided realistic training across the country for French air, ground and sea components alongside their U.S. allies.

Two U.S. platoons with Task Force Red Dragon, one from the Virginia National Guard’s Alpha Company 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, and one from the Kentucky National Guard’s Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry Regiment, 116th IBCT, made up one red force cell and one blue force cell, respectively. The task force also provided U.S. support elements to strengthen logistical capabilities.

More than 2,000 French military personnel participated. Assets included 150 vehicles, four French Dassault Mirage fighter jets, joint terminal attack controllers (JTAC), ground-to-air artillery, mortar teams, and Gazelle and Puma helicopters. 

From CJTF-HOA, the United States provided planners, public affairs, medical staff and two infantry platoons. Other units from Camp Lemonnier included ships from Marine Expeditionary Security Squadron and an explosive ordnance disposal team.

The three-day exercise began March 13 when the French Mistral-class LHD ship unloaded vehicles and ground forces onto Arta Beach, Djibouti, to hone amphibious assault skills. WAKRI included more than 100  incidents, constant blue and red force skirmishes, command and control communication and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

The overarching exercise scenario involved hostile forces attempting to establish supply routes on the beach while simultaneously moving forces toward the capital. The blue forces continuously forced the red forces to withdraw, creating opportunities for more simulated attacks to eliminate all “enemies.”

“Blue forces attacked Arta Beach and launched their counterattack from Djibouti to the south,” said French Army Capt. Hugo, an FFDJ company commander and red team lead. “Red forces opposed them from the north to the south in a retrograde maneuver.”

U.S. Soldiers with the blue team conducted joint operations with armored cavalry platoons, engineers and reconnaissance platoons. They received orders from the French command to conduct large-scale battle coordination with the French.

“From this training, we gain rehearsals on our own tactics and standard operating procedures,” said Virginia Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Cameron Belcher, East Africa Response Force, CJTF-HOA. “And we also get to build relationships and familiarity with our allies’ capabilities and assets.”

In addition to improving interoperability, the exercise reinforced capabilities and allowed practical training for one of the French Armed Forces’ key missions in the country: the defense of Djibouti.

“This exercise shows that we are able to set up efficient allied arms companies ready to be deployed,” said Hugo. “This exercise is focused on being able to respond to real-world events.”

The exercise demonstrated how the United States and France train together to defend against threats, strengthening their collective security forces and promoting regional security, stability, and prosperity.

More than 1,000 Virginia and Kentucky Army National Guard Soldiers are mobilized as Task Force Red Dragon under the command of the 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, to provide security for Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa. It is the largest VNG single-unit mobilization since World War II.



Related Articles
Cyber Shield participants conduct the Certified Cyber Exercise Assessor Course during the annual Cyber Shield training event at the Virginia National Guard’s State Military Reservation in Virginia Beach June 6, 2024. Over 900 National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers, Airmen, civilian cyber professionals, and international partners participated in the exercise.
National Guard Members Test Skills at Cyber Shield 2024
By Staff Sgt. Hannah Tarkelly, | June 27, 2024
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Almost 1,000 participants flooded the Virginia National Guard State Military Reservation in Virginia Beach for the longest-running and largest Department of Defense cyber defense exercise May 31 to June...

Virginia, Kentucky and West Virginia Army National Guard Soldiers along with members of the 72nd Mechanized Battalion, 7th Mechanized Brigade, Czech Republic Army, participated in a culminating training exercise May 14, 2024, in the Olomouc Region of the Czech Republic. The units are mobilized for Immediate Response 24 as Task Force St. Lo under the command of the Virginia National Guard’s 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
Task Force St. Lo Soldiers Train in Czech Republic
By Staff Sgt. Jeff Clements, | June 21, 2024
OLOMOUC REGION, Czech Republic  – Nearly 800 Virginia, Kentucky and West Virginia National Guard Soldiers conducted annual training in the Czech Republic as part of Operation Immediate Response 24, a component of Steadfast...

U.S. Army North stages a practice hurricane response during the 2024 Hurricane Rehearsal of Concept drill at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, June 4, 2024. The drill prepares ARNORTH and other federal agencies to respond to such disasters and safeguard American citizens.
National Guard, US Army North, FEMA Train for Hurricane Response
By Capt. Tara Santon and 1st Lt. Karlee Skaggs, | June 17, 2024
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO – FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas – More than 150 military and civilian partners joined U.S. Army North in person and virtually for a Hurricane Rehearsal of Concept (ROC) Drill June 4.“We are being watched...