1,130 New York National Guard soldiers provided security for US military facilities in Eastern Africa
The New York National Guard's Task Force Wolfhound completed its mission providing security at U.S. installations in the Horn of Africa on Saturday, June 3. The 1,130 soldiers of the task force had been providing security at locations in Djibouti, Somalia and Kenya since Sept. 19, 2022.
Just over 1,000 soldiers mobilized for the deployment in June. An additional 130 soldiers mobilized in September for the mission.
The New York National Guard soldiers were a component of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, which operates in the region. The mission was turned over to soldiers from the Oklahoma Army National Guard's 1st Battalion, 179th Infantry Regiment, during a formal transfer of authority ceremony.
The colors of the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry, were cased – or rolled up and stored – by Lt. Col. Shawn Tabankin, the battalion commander. Then those of the Oklahoma Army Guard unit were unfurled, indicating that the 1st Battalion, 179th Infantry, was now responsible for security for the joint task force.
The bulk of the soldiers were based at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti on the Red Sea. Company-sized elements provided security at four remote locations in Somalia and Kenya.
The task force was also responsible for manning the East African Response Force, or EARF.
Founded in the wake of the 2012 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya, the EARF consists of a specially trained and equipped rifle company ready to respond at short notice to provide security augmentation at U.S. embassies and facilities, and assist in the evacuation of civilians.
Army Maj. Gen. Jamie Shawley, the commander of Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, praised the New York National Guard soldiers for the drive they brought to their missions.
"You conducted monthly training, exercises and drills to ensure the EARF's readiness to respond to any crisis within Sub-Saharan Africa," she said. "You accomplished your mission with a level of competence and proficiency indicative of your storied history.”
Task Force Wolfhound was also tasked with providing security support for U.S. flagged vessels during port calls at the nearby Port of Djibouti.
Most of the deployed soldiers were assigned to New York City's 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry. Other soldiers came from the 2nd Battalion, 108th, Infantry which is headquartered in Utica, and the 2nd Battalion, 101st Cavalry, which is headquartered in Niagara Falls.
During the past two weeks, the New York National Guard soldiers assisted the Oklahoma National Guard Soldiers as they flowed into the base and learned their duties. As more Oklahoma Soldiers arrived, the New York National Guard Soldiers returned to Fort Bliss, Texas, for demobilization. As the Soldiers completed the demobilization process, they have been returning to airports across New York.
Along with their security duties, the New York soldiers conducted training with other allied militaries operating in the region.
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 designed to reinforce combat capabilities and partner interoperability.
Thirty-one soldiers completed the French Desert Commando Course, while 15 soldiers became United States citizens during a special ceremony held at the U.S embassy in Djibouti.
The 69th Infantry traditionally leads the St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York City, and unit members conducted an abbreviated parade at Camp Lemonnier on March 17.
The task force also conducted a “Best Warrior Competition,” which was open to members of other services operating at Camp Lemonnier.