Maintenance window scheduled to begin at February 14th 2200 est. until 0400 est. February 15th


Forgot Password?

    Defense Visual Information Distribution Service Logo

    Cal Guard Infantry unit heads for Middle East deployment

    Cal Guard infantry unit heads for Middle East deployment

    Photo By Crystal Housman | Soldiers with Cal Guard's 1st Battalion, 160th Infantry Regiment, operating as Task...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Crystal Housman 

    California National Guard Primary   

    by Staff Sgt. Crystal Housman
    California National Guard Public Affairs

    Feb. 1, 2023

    INGLEWOOD, Calif. – U.S. Army Spc. Jarakoi Tran knelt behind the California Army National Guard's Inglewood Armory, Jan. 8, and smiled as he gave his six month old dog, Chabo, a good scratch behind the ears.

    With wife Emily by his side and mother Nance not far away, Tran banked some puppy hugs in the final hours before he and hundreds of other Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 160th Infantry Regiment, headed out for a months-long deployment to the Middle East within the U.S. Central Area of Command (CENTCOM) area of responsibility.

    "We never want to part ways from our family, even for a little bit," said the newlywed Tran, who previously deployed to Afghanistan and is deploying now a little more than a month after he and Emily's nuptials. "We signed up to serve and the whole purpose is to train up and deploy. It's bittersweet."

    Operating as Task Force Blackjack, the battalion is largely from armories in Los Angeles and Orange counties, with hundreds of additional Soldiers coming from units of the 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, including one from San Juan, Puerto Rico, all deploying together under the 1-160th flag.

    With Soldiers from Eureka to Brawley, Task Force Blackjack represents a wide swath of the Golden State.

    The Task Force had about a hundred days to prepare, train and deploy to relieve the Army's 10th Mountain Division as an asset for CENTCOM's combatant commander. The truncated timeline – usually units have nine months to a year to prepare for deployment – was not without it's manning and logistical challenges, but the Soldiers are ready, said battalion commander, Lt. Col. Leroy Cisneros, who is taking more than 700 of Cal Guard's Soldiers overseas.

    "They're ready now," Cisneros said, noting the rapid run-up his team executed to get the Soldiers and their families tactically, administratively, and emotionally ready for the road ahead.

    The Soldiers trained together for three weeks at Ft. Bliss in December and came home for the holidays.

    In January, Task Force Blackjack returned to Ft. Bliss for final pre-mobilization requirements on their way overseas.

    The battalion's ability to rally on short notice is a testament to Soldiers' warrior spirit, said Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Giangregorio.

    "It's not optimal," Giangregorio said, "but we did it because people were willing to raise their hands and step up to serve."

    Spc. Nicole Smith was one of those people.

    "I'm pretty excited to go," said Smith, a human resources specialist who joined the Guard two years ago after finishing college and is deploying for the first time.

    Smith and Spc. Erinann Moreno carried the unit's administrative load leading up to the deployment and will continue to serve their fellow Soldiers' human resources needs while overseas.

    "I'm looking forward to gaining more experience, just learning my job a little bit more," Moreno said. A single mother who joined the Guard three years ago, she is one course shy of an Associate's Degree in human resources, but is hungry to keep learning more about her field.

    "I'm used to speaking to people at orientations, small groups of people," she said. During December's training at Ft. Bliss, she had to brief the entire Task Force of 700 Soldiers. "I was nervous to do it at first, but once I got out there, I don't know what came over me. I could do it."

    Moreno, Smith, Cisneros, Giangregorio, Tran and the rest of the Task Force are expected to return in late summer or early fall.

    Chabo, who should be twice as large by then, will be waiting with his tail wagging.



    Date Taken: 02.01.2023
    Date Posted: 12.31.2023 17:43
    Story ID: 461132

    Web Views: 427
    Downloads: 0