COLUMBUS, Ohio — Just five days before Christmas, about 50 soldiers from the Ohio Army National Guard’s Headquarters and Headquarters Battery are set to deploy for around one year in support of the U.S. European Command on Sunday.
The soldiers are a part of the 174th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, located in Columbus.
A ceremony was held at 9 a.m. and live streamed due to COVID-19 concerts. Click here to watch the ceremony.
“Who deploys five days before Christmas? You do. Who answers the call five days before Christmas, willingly, an all volunteer force?” said Major General John C. Harris, Jr. “I know, you didn’t volunteer for this mission, you were called to this mission, but you’re part of an all volunteer force and no other nation in the world could form the military might that this nation has mustered with an all volunteer force.”
Gov. Mike DeWine recorded a video to be played at the ceremony, thanking the soldiers for their service.
"We're so proud of all of you for your service as members of the Ohio National Guard's 174th Air Defense Artillery Brigade," DeWine said. "We wish you well on your mission overseas and thank you for answering the call to service."
The European Deterrence Initiative, which the soldiers are being deployed to serve in, is meant to "enhance the U.S. deterrence posture, increase the readiness and responsiveness of U.S. forces in Europe, support the collective defense and security of NATO allies, and bolster the security and capacity of U.S. allies and partners."
The unit has previously deployed to Germany in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve in 2018. Portions of the unit have also deployed as task force headquarter elements in 2009, 2012 and 2017. The unit also mobilized in support of the U.S. Central Command from 2008 to 2013.