Southwest border mission continues in new location for N.D. Guard
After spending most of 2012 assisting the U.S. Customs and Border Protection on the southwest border of the United States, members of the North Dakota Army National Guard remain on mission but in a new location for 2013. Soldiers with the 1st Battalion, 112th Aviation Regiment (Security and Support), out of Bismarck, N.D., began the mission in Arizona in February 2012. As this year began, their assistance was requested to continue - but in Texas.
"For such a small team of North Dakota Guardsmen to accomplish so much in less than a year is incredible yet not surprising," said Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general. "North Dakota Guardsmen continue to be recognized around the globe for their dedication and work ethic, and I know the support these men and women have provided the U.S. Customs and Border Protection ranks at that same standard."
Eight Soldiers - two pilots and one crew member at a time - have been serving on one- to three-month rotations on the border along with an OH-58 Kiowa helicopter.
Lt. Col. Jerry Anderson, the North Dakota Army National Guard's state Army aviation officer, said the Soldiers "did some truly great work down there."
They provided about 570 hours of support to the task force in the first six months of the mission. They've seized drugs and weapons and assisted with a number of other missions, as well. From March through October of 2012, North Dakota Soldiers seized 15,656 pounds of drugs and apprehended 1,077 people, as well as conducted 10 search and rescue missions.
Elements of the 1st Battalion, 112th Aviation Regiment also have served outside the U.S. recently. Its Headquarters and Headquarters Company deployed in support of a NATO peacekeeping mission in Kosovo from September 2011 through September 2012.
Since the 2001 terrorist attacks on America, the North Dakota National Guard has mobilized more than 3,900 Soldiers and about 2,400 Airmen in support of the Global War on Terrorism. About 70 percent of all members serving today have joined since that time. Currently, more than 120 North Dakota Guardsmen are serving overseas while more than 4,000 remain in the state for emergency response and national defense. For every 10,000 citizens in North Dakota, 65 serve in the North Dakota National Guard, a rate that's more than four times the national average.