RICHMOND, Va. – The first groups of the Virginia National Guard’s 329th Regional Support Group Headquarters returned to Virginia June 17 after supporting Operation Inherent Resolve at multiple locations overseas Oct. 7 to June 6.
Members of the 329th provided mission command and base life support to Al Asad Air Base, Erbil Air Base and the Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center in Iraq, and to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.
“There are lots of stats associated with this mission like thousands of troops supported, tons of supplies and material moved, millions of dollars of projects executed, numbers of Combat Action Badges or awards earned, but the number I’m most proud of is actually zero,” said Col. Todd Pegg, commander of the 329th RSG.
“The 329th had zero Purple Hearts, breaking the trend of our predecessor units, in part due to our increased focus and efforts on improving base defenses and hardening force protection measures,” he said. “Beyond keeping our own folks safe, the lasting improvements the Jamestown team made will serve countless U.S. and coalition troops well in the future.”
The 329th RSG command team was stationed at Al Asad Air Base and provided base command and base operating support-integrator operations. BOS-I is the cell that coordinates and secures all base life support functions and land use, including food, water, fuel, military and office supplies, new construction, equipment and personnel movement. The command team was transferred to Camp Arifjan from Nov. 23 to June 6 while continuing to provide BOS-I support to Al Asad Air Base.
The unit’s mission at Erbil Air Base was to support the installation commander by providing BOS-I operations.
At Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center, the unit provided a commandant cell for BOS-I operations to the military entities on installation.
The unit’s mission in Camp Arifjan was to provide a commandant cell that supported the Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve staff. The 329th RSG also provided a Soldier to the CJTF-OIR to serve as their sexual assault response coordinator.
Collectively, the 329th RSG’s missions included commanding assigned or attached units, supporting units and personnel as directed, providing contract requirements definition and oversight, determining base camp support requirements, supporting a 24/7 base defense operations center and overseeing base camp management and operations.
“The 329th RSG excelled in this complex, non-doctrinal mission,” Pegg said. “From numerous indirect fire and unmanned aerial system attacks at the bases in Iraq to the complexities associated with operations in the interagency environment of Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center and the multifunctional support to the CJTF-OIR staff in Camp Arifjan, the 329th RSG provided outstanding leadership, achieving immeasurable results to the bases they led and supported.”
The 329th RSG responded to multiple indirect fire and unmanned aerial system attacks, Pegg said. The 329th RSG staff focused on integrating all the key entities from initiation of the attack through post-attack recovery.
“The leadership and strong abilities in process improvement were critical to the quick response to these attacks,” he said.
Pegg said that through tenant communication, solid relationships, and diligent staff work, Al Asad Air Base, Erbil Air Base and Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center all improved the personnel accountability process.
“The quick account enabled the base commanders to focus on battle damage assessment and initiating repair plans based on the assessment,” he said.
The logistics section at Al Asad Air Base also played a vital role in the recovery and safeguarding of an Improvised Multiple Rocket Launch System, Pegg said.
The mission began in the middle of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.
Pegg said through a team effort of the 329th RSG, medical professionals, and unit leadership, the average vaccination rate at the four locations was over 99%. That enabled base commanders to lift restrictions on masks, open dining facilities and other services on the bases.
The commandant cell at Camp Arifjan served as the CJTF-OIR Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, providing administrative, operations, logistics and communications support to CJTF-OIR staff and coalition forces.
The Camp Arifjan Commandant Cell supported the planning and execution of the relief in place of Task Force III. They also managed the base camp management cell BOS-I sync, with the 329th commander serving as the chair for the weekly syncs.
Lastly, with the relocation of the 329th commander to Camp Arifjan, the commandant cell served as the RSG Headquarters, directing operations for the subordinate detachments at Al Asad Air Base, Erbil Air Base and Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center.
The commandant cell at Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center served as the direct liaison between the Department of State and CJTF-OIR. They were responsible for the accountability of all Department of Defense operations and personnel, including DoD military and civilians and coalition forces.
The commandant cell was the direct line of communication between the Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center DoS management, the Regional Security Office and CJTF. As the CJTF representative for all matters involving CJTF personnel, equipment, and logistics, the commandant cell facilitated the action of all DoD requests on the installation.
“The Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center team vastly improved mission command by implementing a tactical operations center environment within the commandant cell to receive, corroborate and disseminate mission-critical information to the DoS Sully Operations Center and all DoD and coalition force partners,” Pegg said.
They also worked with the DoS Financial Management Office, facilities and contracting to oversee $113 million of contracts within Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center.
The commandant cell managed, coordinated, and facilitated the force protection improvements of the only Role 3 Hospital in Iraq or Syria and the improved force protection of the medical evacuation aviation tactical operations center and on-shift flight crew sleeping quarters.