CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti – The U.S. Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, and 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment, have a shared history. Each unit traces its lineage back to the Civil War, and both units courageously fought at the battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. Now, after more than 150 years, these two storied units have come together. This time, to hand over control of an essential security mission in East Africa.
U.S. Army Col. Jim Tierney, the 1-116th Infantry Regiment, Task Force Red Dragon commander, cased the battalion’s flag to signify the unit handing responsibility of the mission over to the 1-69th Infantry Regiment, Task Force Wolfhound, during a transfer-of-authority ceremony at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Sept. 19, 2022.
“Task Force Red Dragon, your accomplishments and sacrifices only add excellence to your already distinguished heritage,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Jami Shawley, commanding general of Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA). “There is no doubt that you have brought great credit to your unit, CJTF-HOA, and the United States Army.
“We now welcome Task Force Wolfhound,” Shawley continued. “With your distinguished legacy, you now carry the burden forward.”
Task Force Wolfhound now has the essential mission of providing critical security support at five different installations across three different East African countries. In addition to conventional security operations, the task force will now be responsible for manning the East African Response Force, or EARF.
Created during the wake of the 2012 attack in Benghazi, the EARF stands ready to rapidly deploy to provide crisis response operations throughout East Africa and safeguard U.S. interests. Task Force Wolfhound Soldiers will now train extensively to maintain EARF capabilities.
During the ceremony, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Shawn Tabankin, the 1-69th Infantry commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Jason Zeller, the 1-69th Infantry senior enlisted leader, unfurled the unit's colors, an act which represents Task Force Wolfhound assuming leadership of a security mission as part of CJTF-HOA.
As the United States’ largest tactical unit on the continent of Africa, the security task force makes up more than two-thirds of the CJTF-HOA force and is critical to providing security and building partnerships throughout East Africa in support of U.S. Africa Command.
“Today, we assume our part of the CJTF-HOA Mission,” Tabankin said. “We look forward to working with our allies and African partners, to be their partner of choice.”
The deployment of the 1-69th Infantry to Africa marks the unit’s first overseas mobilization since deploying to Baghdad, Iraq, in 2004 during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Hailing from New York City to Niagara Falls, the Manhattan headquartered task force is composed of more than 1,100 Soldiers from nine different companies.
As part of CJTF-HOA, Task Force Wolfhound will work in close cooperation with Djiboutian, French, Japanese, Italian, Spanish and many African nation partners. A task which will be right at home with the diverse infantry battalion.
“True to our roots we remain a Battalion of immigrants from 33 different countries,” Tabankin said. “It’s that immigrant spirit that makes true New Yorkers, and the Melting Pot, that makes true Americans, that continues to form the foundation of strength of our very proud battalion.”
“We are prepared to respond to any crisis,” Tabankin added. “We will work by, with, and through our African partners to achieve our common goals.”