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NEWS | April 19, 2024

Pennsylvania National Guard Members Deploy to Africa

By Sgt. 1st Class Zane Craig, Joint Force Headquarters - Pennsylvania National Guard

FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. - U.S. Soldiers from the Pennsylvania National Guard’s 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team recently deployed to Africa to support Special Operations Command Africa.

Task Force Iroquois teams include nine Soldiers going to Somalia in the Horn of Africa and five going to Benin in West Africa.

“Over our time together, we’ve formed a cohesive team that works hard to complete the mission and looks out for one another,” said Lt. Col. Mark Kurzawa, Horn of Africa Forward Logistical Element officer-in-charge.

Since January, task force members have participated in 14 drill days, 14 days of annual training, and an eight-day pre-deployment site survey in Germany and Africa. They have also completed maintenance, culinary, finance, unit movement, hazardous materials, and vehicle recovery courses based on their roles.

“The important thing to know about this mission is it’s being executed for the first time,” said Kurzawa. “We’ve had no previous unit to give us guidance.”

Usually in a deployment, there is a larger unit and a culminating training exercise to validate the unit’s training. However, in this case, the Soldiers are validated on individual tasks because they will be going out in small teams in outstation locations and doing skills specific to their military occupational specialty.

“The MOSs going to Benin are particular to that location,” said Kurzawa. “For instance, our culinary specialist is going there because they operate off the economy in terms of getting food, they get a per diem. The west is more austere, it’s more difficult to travel in terms of air movement, whereas in the east, everything comes in through Djibouti, where we have a large base next door.”

After several weeks of additional pre-deployment training in Texas, the Soldiers will be in Africa for nearly one year.

“This will be a period of sacrifice and separation, but it will not be in vain. You will be separated by distance but not at heart. You are serving something bigger than yourselves,” said Lt. Col. Alicia Partin of the 328th Brigade Support Battalion, the home unit of most Task Force Iroquois Soldiers.

Kurzawa said that when these Soldiers return, they will bring highly developed leadership skills and experience to the 28th ID and the Pennsylvania National Guard.



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