INDIANAPOLIS - Approximately 300 Indiana National Guard members with the 38th Infantry Division’s 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team said goodbye to family and friends during a Camp Atterbury ceremony Sept. 30.
The Soldiers are deploying to Kosovo as Task Force Nighthawk. They will be led by Col. Chris Mabis and his senior enlisted leader, Command Sgt. Maj. Joshua Brown.
“You Soldiers represent the best the United States has to offer,” Mabis said during the ceremony. “Everyone sitting here is an ambassador of the United States and a representative of the Hoosier State. I can’t be prouder of this team.”
Mabis also thanked the Soldiers’ families for their support.
“Thank you for letting your Solider be a part of this experience,” Mabis said to the families. “You’re a vital part of Task Force Nighthawk, and your job is the most important. Rely on each other and help each other out; that’s the strength of our community-based force.”
The Soldiers will lead Regional Command - East under the command of NATO in support of Operation Joint Guardian. They will be the 31st rotation of U.S. military forces based at Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo. The mission under U.N. Resolution 1244 is to provide a safe, secure environment and ensure freedom of movement for Kosovo citizens.
Maj. Gen. Dale Lyles, Indiana’s adjutant general, said the deployment demonstrates America’s resolve to defend the sovereignty of free and democratic nations like Kosovo.
”The men and women of this brigade will work to ensure that Kosovo’s independence and sovereignty will remain strong and that our collective goal of independent, multi-ethnic states in society coexisting peacefully in the western Balkans is realized,” said Lyles.
America does not stand alone in Kosovo. Troops from Poland, Latvia, Switzerland, Turkey, Slovenia, Greece, Hungary and Italy serve in Regional Command-East.
Before deploying, the Nighthawk Soldiers trained on weapons qualification, non-lethal weapons training, patrol operations, and interaction with governmental and nongovernmental entities.