Five elite Illinois National Guard soldiers deployed from Arsenal to Mongolia
As much of the nation watched the Super Bowl pre-game hype, five soldiers with the Illinois National Guard were kicked off on a super showdown of their own on Sunday. But this team’s big game won’t be in sunny California, but in the ancient Asian land of Mongolia.
A logistics advisory team of five elite Illinois National Guard soldiers 6th Battalion, 54th Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB) held a deployment ceremony on Sunday, February 13, at the Rock Island Arsenal. After brief training in Texas, the team will join the active duty Army 5th SFAB based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., to deploy to Mongolia. The six-month deployment is the first for the Illinois National Guard’s SFAB unit and represents the first SFAB to support the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, according to a Monday statement.
The SFAB is an elite unit whose main mission is to conduct training, advisory, assistance, empowerment and support operations with allied and partner countries. The Illinois Army National Guard SFAB unit was activated in 2020, after approximately a year and a half of unit organization. The 6th Battalion, based at Rock Island Arsenal, represents the logistics experts of the 54th SFAB. The headquarters of the 54th SFAB is in Indiana.
“We feel immense pride in sending this team,” said Major Keri Wolf, the officer in charge of the 6th Battalion and one of the first full-time Active Guard Reserve (AGR) officers in charge of the crew, equip and train the new unit. “To see it all come to fruition is just a great feeling.”
Lieutenant Colonel Bradley Roach, commander of the 6th Battalion, said he was “jealous” of the deployment team. “Although you are few in number, the positive effect you can have on future U.S.-Mongolian relations is significant.” Roach said the SFAB not only advises foreign defense forces, it also builds lasting relationships and trust between nations. Mongolia is an independent Asian nation sandwiched between China and Russia.
The Logistics Advisory Team, designated Team 6621, consists of an Officer in Charge, NCO in Charge/Transportation Expert, Supply Expert/Quartermaster, Maintenance Expert and of a medical expert. “Although they are all experts in their own field, they are also trained in the other fields so that they can advise effectively in all areas of Army logistics,” Wolf said.
Col. Tim Newman, commander of the 108th Sustainment Brigade, the 6th Battalion’s higher headquarters in Illinois, told the families of deployed Guardsmen to please contact them if they needed support. “We’re here for you,” Newman said.
Capt. Cameron Worley, a Peoria native and officer in charge of the team, said he was delighted with the deployment and promised to take good care of the soldiers while in Mongolia. In six months, the team should be replaced in Mongolia by another team from the 6th Battalion.
“I’m honored to lead this first team and go do what this unit is designed to do,” he said.