Florida

Florida National Guard sending 700 soldiers to Africa

Florida National Guard Spc. Micah Whitten watches his area of responsibility during a field training exercise March 16, 2016, in Arta, Djibouti. He’ll be coming home soon, and be replaced by other Florida Guard troops.
Florida National Guard Spc. Micah Whitten watches his area of responsibility during a field training exercise March 16, 2016, in Arta, Djibouti. He’ll be coming home soon, and be replaced by other Florida Guard troops. U.S. AIR FORCE

About 700 Florida National Guard troops are headed to the Horn of Africa again to be part of U.S. military operations against al-Qaida and other violent extremists in East Africa, a wing of the war on terror.

The Guard said in an announcement Thursday that the Miami-based 1st Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment, nicknamed the “Hurricanes,” and Alpha Troop, 1st Squadron, 153rd Cavalry Regiment depart this weekend respectively from airports in Fort Lauderdale and Panama City “for a 12-month mission in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.”

They’ll be at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti for about nine of those months with the rest of the yearlong deployment devoted to preparation, training and demobilization.

The Florida Guard sent a similar-sized unit to the Horn last year, then from the Orlando-based 2nd Battalion of the 124th Infantry Regiment. This new deployment replaces them.

About 2,000 troops and civilians work out of the Djibouti headquarters of the Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa, run by Africa Command. Operation Freedom’s Sentinel became the name of the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa on Jan. 1, 2015. Before that it was known as Operation Enduring Freedom from the inception of the war in Afghanistan following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Carol Rosenberg: 305-376-3179, @carolrosenberg

More Reading

Here’s a link to a Miami Herald story about the commander of the Florida National Guard, Maj. Gen. Michael Calhoun.

Here’s a link to a Herald story about the Florida Guard’s 13th Army Band, and a photo gallery of the weekend warriors on woodwinds.

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