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NEWS | June 16, 2022

New York Army Guard Soldiers Heading to Africa, Kuwait

By Eric Durr, New York National Guard

NEW YORK – Almost 1,400 New York Army National Guard Soldiers are deploying to East Africa and Kuwait in the largest mobilization of New York National Guard forces in more than a decade.

Two hundred and fifty Soldiers of the 3rd Battalion, 142nd Aviation, left for Fort Hood, Texas, June 9-10 to prepare for deployment to Kuwait to support U.S. Central Command.

Another 1,130 Soldiers from New York City’s 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry, along with companies from the 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry, and the 2nd Squadron 101st Cavalry, held farewells June 13-14. They constitute Task Force Wolfhound, headed to the Horn of Africa.

They will train in Fort Drum, New York, for two weeks, meeting U.S. Africa Command’s requirements. Then they move to Fort Bliss, Texas, for two more months of training before heading to Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti as a security task force.

"When we hit the ground in Africa this September, this will be the most ready battalion in the United States Army, Lt. Col. Shawn  Tabankin, commander of the 69th Infantry, told 600 Soldiers at a June 14 ceremony at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in Manhattan."

This is the largest deployment year for the New York Army National Guard since 2008-2009, when the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team deployed to Afghanistan, according to Army Maj. Gen. Michel Natali, the New York National Guard’s assistant adjutant general, Army.

Along with the aviation battalion and the task force built around the 69th Infantry, the New York National Guard will deploy the 642nd Aviation Support Battalion, the 369th Sustainment Brigade, the 101st Expeditionary Signal Battalion, and other small support elements to Kuwait before the fall.

The 3rd Battalion, 142nd Aviation, is an assault helicopter battalion with companies and support elements at Army Aviation Support Facilities at Albany International Airport in Latham and Long Island McArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma.

A 2021 training rotation at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, did a lot to prepare the Soldiers for a Middle East deployment, said Lt. Col. Matt Green, the battalion commander.

Initially, only one assault helicopter company and some supporting elements were to deploy.

But that changed in late 2021 to include both helicopter companies based in New York and the bulk of the battalion headquarters and support companies deploying.

The battalion’s C Company is split between the Maine and Connecticut Army National Guard.

Green said the battalion emphasized individual readiness during weekend and annual training at Fort Drum and will focus on collective training and the skills to conduct and coordinate air assaults while at Fort Hood.

The battalion launched 11 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters from Latham and 10 from Ronkonkoma following farewell ceremonies June 9. The rest of the troops deployed by chartered airplane.

Task Force Wolfhound, which takes its name from the Irish dog that is the official mascot of the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry, has been training for the mission for 18 months, Tabankin said.

In Djibouti, the task force will provide security at Camp Lemonnier, a former French Foreign Legion post used by the United States since 2002, and at remote locations.

The mission required reaching out across the New York Army National Guard for Soldiers, Tabankin said.

The 2nd Squadron, 101st Cavalry and 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry, which have units across upstate New York, each contributed 130-Soldier companies.

The task force also includes combat engineers from the 204th Engineer Battalion, a platoon from the 207th Military Police Company, and joint tactical air controllers from the New York Air National Guard.

The 69th Infantry has a strong tradition of service in the Civil War, World War I, World War II and in Iraq in 2005, Tabankin told 600 Soldiers and 1,000 family members during the farewell ceremony in New York City.

The 69th Infantry was staffed by Irish immigrants in the days before the Civil War. Today the Citizen-Soldiers of the 69th Infantry include immigrants from 33 countries.

“That immigrant fighting spirit, which makes true New Yorkers, and the melting pot, which makes true Americans, continues to form a foundation of strength in this battalion,” Tabankin said.