FORT DRUM, N.Y. (WWTI) — The New York Army National Guard is preparing for deployment this fall.
The guard is set to send its historic 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry, which includes over 1,100 soldiers to support a security mission in the African Horn.
According to Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Shawn Tabankin, soldiers will be securing installations in Djibouti, Somalia and Kenya.
He said that soldiers are not just training for perimeter security, but for “actively patrolling to deny, prevent or disrupt the enemy from advancing attack on those installations.”
The first part of their mission began with training on Fort Drum ranges. Training exercises now are focusing on the mission-essential task list, including medical and first aid, weapons qualifications and potential combat situations.
The Battalion’s Delta Company is focusing its training to prepare for the active combat zone.
“We’re the heavy weapons company for the battalion,” Delta Company Commander Captain Patrick Murphy explained. “Which means we bring over all the heavy power and machine guns to any fight the battalion commander dictates.”
This includes using advanced weaponry such as heavy machine guns, missile systems and grenade launchers, all of which soldiers are training to use on Fort Drum.
“Some of the things that we’re doing for this deployment as far is training is that we are doing individual weapon qualifications to make sure [soldiers] are proficient with each weapon,” Delta Company Gunnery Specialist SFC Saul Pineda-Vega added.
But several mission leaders said that Soldiers are keeping a motivated attitude, as this will be the first deployment for the majority of soldiers included in the mission.
“This is my first deployment,” PFC John River shared. “I’m very excited to be deployed and see a new part of the world. One of the reasons I joined that Guard was to travel and this is going to be a great experience.”
“These soldiers are highly motivated,” Lt. Col. Tabankin noted. “This is a great mission and they’re going to have not only the opportunity to conduct a mission to further the security of the United States, but also have amazing training opportunities which some of the tier 1 assets of the U.S. Army and Navy.”
After training at Fort Drum wraps up in the first weeks of July, the 69th Infantry will head to Fort Bliss in Texas for a two-month training period. The Battalion is expected to be deployed to Africa in September 2022.