Minnesota Guardsmen to return from Africa deployment

April 21, 2021 (ST. PAUL, Minnesota) – Over 700 Soldiers from the Minnesota National Guard’s 2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry Regiment headquartered in Mankato, Minnesota, will be returning to Minnesota over the coming weeks after an 11-month deployment in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa.

“Our Soldiers successfully accomplished their mission while facing numerous challenges including a global pandemic,” said Lt. Col. Chip Rankin, the task force commander. “We were one of the first to deploy in this new normal, and our Soldiers handled it with discipline and professionalism.”

Task Force Bayonet’s mission in the Horn of Africa was to provide force protection through security forces in the region of Djibouti, Somalia and Kenya, to support the Africa Command Theater Security Cooperation Strategy, and to ensure the success of the East Africa Response Force.

The 2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry, which made up the majority of the deployed task force, Task Force Bayonet, left Minnesota in June 2020 for Fort Bliss, Texas, to conduct premobilization training. The task force arrived in the Horn of Africa in July.

Upon assumption of its mission in Africa, Task Force Bayonet immediately experienced an evolution in its primary mission by increasing its force protection footprint throughout Somalia. Task Force Bayonet personnel managed base operations for over 600 personnel and 30 separate entities. Towards the end of the deployment, the task force began Operation Octave Quartz, and assisted in repositioning U.S. Department of Defense forces from Somalia to other areas in East Africa.

The battalion deployed as a multi-state Army National Guard task force including Soldiers from units in Iowa and Illinois. While deployed, the battalion worked with several foreign partners, including the French Forces of Djibouti, the Armed Forces of Djibouti, the Uganda People’s Defense Force, the Kenya Defense Forces, the Somali National Army, the Royal British Army, the African Union Mission to Somalia and many more key international partners in the Horn of Africa.

The 2-135th Infantry has a long and proud history of service to the nation, dating back to the First Minnesota Regiment’s service in the Civil War.

“The storied legacy of the First Minnesota Infantry Regiment as witnessed at Gettysburg back in 1863 lives on today through Task Force Bayonet over an 11-month deployment serving multiple commands in a variety of security missions across multiple countries on the continent with discipline, dedication and pride,” said Rankin.

– About the Minnesota National Guard –

Established in 1856 and headquartered in St. Paul, the Minnesota National Guard has more than 13,000 soldiers and airmen who serve in 61 communities across the state. The citizen-soldiers and airmen of the Minnesota National Guard are ‘Always Ready’ to fight the nation’s wars, protect the country, respond to state emergencies and contribute to local communities. For more information about the Minnesota National Guard, visit https://MinnesotaNationalGuard.ng.mil