In October, 270 soldiers from the Rhode Island National Guard’s (RING) 1st battalion, 126th Aviation Regiment, deployed for Southwest Asia in support of the Department of Defense’s Operations Spartan Shield and Inherent Resolve.
Now at their halfway point of a one-year deployment, RING’s information officer Jeff Lessard said that there have been no fatalities among the battalion. A few people have joined and a few people have come back in that time, he said, so there is still around 270 over there.
Lessard said that the Spartan Shield operation is in Kuwait while the Inherent Resolve operation is in Iraq and near the Syrian border. He called it a “dangerous operation” and said the battalion is supporting all operations in those areas.
Lt. Col. Brian Hennesey, who is the commander of the 126th regiment, also commands the multi-state task force that has been assembled called Task Force Liberty. Lessard said that the task force involves multiple National Guards and supports a “very large area” in Southwest Asia.
“This month marks the approximate half-way point of this nearly yearlong adventure,” said Lt. Col. Hennessey in a statement. “TF Liberty soldiers remain committed to and continue to exceed in their mission here. The task force has moved more than 1.2 million pounds of cargo to date and conducted more than 90 MEDEVAC missions ranging from minor illness to life saving critical care in a challenging and unforgiving environment.”
“We’ve transported more than 15,000 passengers,” he continued. “No small feat for the few aircraft that actually are tasked to accomplish this mission routinely.”
Hennessey also hailed the camaraderie that’s been formed within the RI National Guard members.
“While all of these accomplishments are wonderful feats and deserve recognition, the greatest achievements remain who they are for each other,” he said. “These are stressful days and this team of teams is there for one another always…This truly is a family and Command Sergeant Major [Nicky] Peppe and I are proud to be a part of something so special.”
Major General Christopher Callahan, the Adjutant General of the operation, added that “the leaders and soldiers of the 126th have proven themselves to be very adaptable in their response to a rapidly evolving problem set.”
Moise Moniz, state Command Sergeant Major of the RI National Guard, also expressed pride about the members who are deployed.
“It gives me a great deal of satisfaction to see them all performing their individual and collective tasks at an exceptional level,” he said. “Unlike many of their previous deployments, this deployment requires the battalion to support a larger area of operations and be set up at multiple locations. This presents a unique challenge of organizing themselves in smaller elements and having to merge with elements from other units.”