New York City's 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry completes training and now heads to East Africa
Task Force Wolfhound will provide security to U.S. military facilities in the region
Fort Bliss, Texas (09/09/2022) — New York Army National Guard Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry, which his headquartered at the Lexington Avenue Armory in Manhattan, are headed to the Horn of Africa after two months of training at Fort Bliss, Texas.
Known as Task Force Wolfhound, the 1000- Soldier unit conducted a formal casing of the color's ceremony on Sept. 6, 2022, to mark the end of their post-mobilization training period.
The colors will be unfurled once the unit is ready to assume responsibility to security missions at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti.
Over the next week the Soldiers will depart from Fort Bliss for Djibouti, where they will replace Soldiers from the Maryland National Guard's 29th Infantry Division.
Most Soldiers will be stationed in Djibouti, but smaller company detachments will deploy to locations in Somalia and Kenya.
The core of Task Force Wolfhound is the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry, which is headquartered in New York City. Since the Civil War the unit has been famous as "The Fighting 69th" and served in World Wars I and II and in Iraq.
Charlie Company from the New York National Guard's 2nd Squadron, 108th Infantry and a cavalry troop from western New York's 2nd Squadron, 101st Cavalry, are also part of the task force.
"We are ready," Lt. Col. Shawn Tabankin, the commander of the 69th Infantry, told the troops during the casing ceremony.
"We are ready physically, emotionally, and spiritually," Tabankin said.
"It's been a long road to get to this point, and the casing of our colors marks an important transition as we begin our movement overseas," he added.
Major General Michel Natali, the assistant adjutant general, Army, for the New York National Guard, said the task force was well prepared for their mission because of additional training they conducted at Fort Drum, New York, before heading to Fort Bliss.
Their final exercise at Fort Bliss required each company to conduct a live fire exercise, and they all performed well, Natali said.
"I think they will be in great shape when they get to Africa," Natali said.
The Soldiers are expected to spend 10 months in East Africa.
The task force ceremony to case its colors is significant because of what a battalion's flag stands for, Tabankin said.
"The very soul of a unit is symbolized in the colors under which it fights and in the battle streamers and rings affixed to these colors," Tabankin said.
"They record the glories of the past, stand guardian over the present, and provide inspiration for the unit's future," he said.
An additional 130 New York Soldiers assigned to Alpha Company of the 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry, mobilizes on Sept. 10 for duty in East Africa as well.
The need for these additional Soldiers was identified later, so they will be deploying later and joining the task force.
While the bulk of those Soldiers belong to Alpha Company, which is based in Geneseo, New York, a platoon of Military Police Soldiers from the 107th Military Police Company in New York City are deploying as part of the unit.
The Alpha Company Soldiers have been conducting additional training over the past three months to prepare for the deployment, according to Capt. Cameron Manley, the company commander.
The company expects to complete training at Fort Bliss in mid-October.
This is the largest deployment year for the New York Army National Guard since 2008-2009, when the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team deployed to Afghanistan, according to Natali.
In June, 250 Soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 142nd Aviation mobilized for deployment to Kuwait along with their UH-60 M Black Hawk helicopters
In July, the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team mobilized 140 Soldiers to serve with the Joint Multi-National Training Group-Ukraine, in Germany, where they are coordinating the training of Ukrainian troops.
And the 369th Sustainment Brigade will mobilize 250 Soldiers in mid-September for duty in Kuwait, as well.