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NEWS | June 6, 2023

New York Guard Completes Horn of Africa Security Mission

By Staff Sgt. Alexander Rector, New York National Guard

CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti – The New York Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment, celebrated a successful nine-month overseas deployment during a transfer of authority ceremony at Camp Lemonnier June 3.

Task Force Wolfhound turned over control of an East Africa security mission in support of Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa to Task Force Tomahawk and its 1,100 Soldiers.

Most of Task Force Tomahawk’s Soldiers are assigned to the Oklahoma Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 179th Infantry Regiment.

Task Force Wolfhound deployed to the Horn of Africa in September and conducted security operations at U.S. installations in Djibouti, Kenya and Somalia.

The task force was built around the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment, based in New York City.

Soldiers from the New York National Guard’s Alpha Company and Charlie Company, part of the 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment, and Alpha Troop of the 2nd Squadron, 101st Cavalry Regiment, were also assigned to the task force.

Lt. Col. Shawn Tabankin, the commander of Task Force Wolfhound, praised the New York National Guard Soldiers for their efforts during the mission.

“You’ve secured United States’ interests and facilities and you’ve worked with our allies and African partners to be their partner of choice,” Tabankin said. “You were prepared and responded to crises. And you have worked by, with, and through our African partners to achieve our common goals.”

During the deployment, Task Force Wolfhound provided 24-hour perimeter security for five U.S. installations across three African countries.

Working alongside international forces, Task Force Wolfhound conducted more than 450 mounted and dismounted patrols to protect U.S. interests abroad.

The task force also staffed the East Africa Response Force (EARF).

Founded in the wake of the 2012 attack in Benghazi, the EARF consists of a specially trained and equipped rifle company postured to respond at short notice to a broad range of military operations, such as crisis response and security augmentation of U.S. embassies and facilities.

During the deployment, the EARF conducted multiple emergency deployment readiness exercises.

Maj. Gen. Jami Shawley, the commander of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, said the men and women of Task Force Wolfhound had carried out that mission well.

“You conducted monthly training exercises and drills to ensure the EARF’s readiness to respond to any crisis within sub-Saharan Africa,” Shawley said. “You accomplished your mission with a level of competence and proficiency indicative of your storied history.”

The EARF’s skills were tested during the April crisis in Sudan with the shuttering of the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum and the evacuation of U.S. diplomats and their families.

Though the EARF did not deploy to Sudan, their planning and crisis response skills proved invaluable during the evacuation of U.S. citizens from the area of hostilities.

In addition to the EARF, Task Force Wolfhound led the Camp Lemonnier quick reaction force and helped secure multiple U.S.-flagged vessels at the Port of Djibouti.

Task Force Wolfhound Soldiers trained alongside international partners from Djibouti, France, Italy, Japan and Spain.

The New York National Guard Soldiers also participated in Exercise Bull Shark 2022, a twice-yearly Spanish-led personnel recovery exercise, and Exercise Wakri 2023, a French exercise to reinforce combat capabilities and partner interoperability.

“These joint training exercises included ranges using U.S. military and partner weaponry, combatives training, tactical combat casualty care, and the exercising of joint movement and tactical combat operations,” Shawley said.

Task Force Wolfhound Soldiers also completed the French Desert Commando Course, and 15 Soldiers became U.S. citizens during a special ceremony at the U.S. embassy in Djibouti.

The task force also conducted a Best Warrior Competition open to members of all services in April.

During the unit’s final days in the Horn of Africa, many of its members received military awards in recognition of their hard work and dedication during the deployment.

“I’m proud to have served with each and every one of you,” said Tabankin. “You deserve these accolades and all those surely to come, as well as a safe and speedy return home.”

The task force’s Soldiers have been returning to Fort Bliss, Texas, for demobilization and will begin returning home to New York in the coming days.

 

 

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