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History
Minnesota National Guard
Active First Program Helping Army Meet Recruiting Goals


Secretary of the Army Pete Geren; Pvt Michael Raleigh Fehl, of Porter, Minn; Pvt Damien L Jones, of Jennings, Mo; Pfc Matt Millen, of Overland Park, Kan; Pvt Jonathan Wight, of Lavonia, Ga; and Lt Gen Clyde A Vaughn, director, Army National Guard, met Jan 10 during a press conference at the Pentagon to highlight the success of the Army National Guard's "Active First" program Under the program, young men and women are recruited by the National Guard to complete a term of service in both the Active and National Guard components of the Army
Army Photo by C Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON " During a press conference Thursday at the Pentagon, the Army's senior leader said the National Guard's "Active First" program has contributed to the Army staying on-target to reach recruitment goals

"Last month we announced our plans to accelerate end-strength growth to achieve our 74,000 increase by 2010," said Secretary of the Army Pete Geren "We're on track to meet that goal And if trends continue, we will exceed it Active First deserves growing credit for helping us meet that goal"

More than 500 recruits have enlisted under Active First since the pilot initiative began Oct 1 Under the program, young men and women are recruited by the National Guard to complete a term of service in both the Active and National Guard components of the Army Those recruits are paid bonuses based on the duration of the active service commitment they choose to accept

Secretary Geren has set a goal of 1,600 enlistments for the program in Fiscal 2008 Lt Gen Clyde A Vaughn, director of the Army National Guard, said he believes the service will have no trouble meeting that goal because of the trust the American public has in the National Guard and because of the care the Army provides to its Soldiers

"The Secretary has tasked us with a goal of 1,600 and that is not going to be hard," he said "It's about trust, it's about reaching out with that big force that we have got out there with recruiters and recruiting the home team The big thing about the National Guard, the big thing about the Army, is we want to take youngsters and put them up on that first step and help them all the way through That's where you get the private, personal mentorship and the care to make sure that you graduate and come out the other end"

Four Soldiers who enlisted under the Active First program attended the press conference Those Soldiers include Pvt Michael Raleigh Fehl, of Porter, Minn; Pvt Damien L Jones, of Jennings, Mo; Pfc Matt Millen, of Overland Park, Kan; and Pvt Jonathan Wight, of Lavonia, Ga Secretary Geren said those Soldiers represent both the relationship between the National Guard and the Army; and what the National Guard is capable of doing with its strong community ties

"These recruits exemplify the best of Active First -- they are the people behind the numbers," he said "Active First is a great partnership; it shows we are one Army -- the National Guard and Active components working together The National Guard is helping recruit people to help grow the all-volunteer force It has its own contacts in the community all over America, and it is these contacts, and the trust the communities of America have in the National Guard, that has enabled this program to get off the ground with such great strength This partnership is bearing great fruit for our total Army"

A career path for a Soldier under the Active First program might begin with six months in a National Guard unit in his or her hometown The Soldier would then enter basic training followed by 30, 36, or 48 months of active duty At the completion of active-duty service, Soldiers return to their National Guard unit and serve one weekend per month and two weeks a year until they complete a total of eight years of military service Depending on their choice of active-duty service time, a Soldier could receive bonuses totaling as much as $60,000

In November, Pvt Wight enlisted under the Active First program He chose a 36-month tour in the active Army and will train as a military policeman He said one of the reasons he chose to enlist is the opportunity it affords him to serve his country But he also said the Army was simply the best deal of the options he explored

"After I checked out the real world, the Army was number one on my list," he said "There are so many things the Army is doing as far as bonuses, training and equipment I mean, it's a hundred billion things"

Another benefit Wight focused on while making his decision to enlist was the support both the Army and the National Guard would provide to his growing family He and his wife Jessica raise their daughter together and have another child on the way

"The Army is going to take care of me and them as well," he said "It means a better lifestyle for our family"

Wight also said he knows his service in the Army will provide benefits for him even after he takes off the uniform for the last time

"I chose the military police, and they will give me the best training possible," he said "After that, if I decide to get out, I can put my resume in anywhere and go from there That was one of the number one things Plus, you just can't find everything the Army offers anywhere else -- I wouldn't trade it for the world"

Pvt Fehl ships out for Army basic training Jan 30 He chose the 30-month option for active service and will train to work in field artillery While impressed with the opportunities the Army offered him, he said family history had a lot to do with his decision to enlist

"My grandpa served in World War II," he said "Before that, his dad was in And my dad was in too We just have a lot of history in the Army I just kind of want to make my family proud and to follow in the footsteps of everybody else"

Another opportunity influencing Fehl's decision to enlist was the chance to leave his hometown of Porter, Minn, with a population of only 300 and a scarcity of good job opportunities

"I mean, I kind of wanted the experience -- to go out, to get out of a smaller town like Porter -- it's 300 people, you know? There's not too many jobs a guy can get around there," he said "I wanted to join the military, and I got out of my town I got the best of both worlds"

Sgt Jared Golde,Fehl's recruiter, said stories like Fehl's are common

"When you are in a small town, like up in Porter, there really are no active-duty installations around," he said "So the National Guard is kind of the primary military that is visible Then you get families like Mike's They have multiple generations of active service and they want their son to be part of that family history"

The Active First program, Sgt Golde said, has helped him as a recruiter because it allows him to offer something other services cannot

"Some of the active-duty service commitment the program offers -- 30 or 36 months, for instance -- are less than what the active duty side can offer," he said "They can serve for only two and half years and then get to come back home -- that's usually not an option for most branches And not only do they get exceptional training as a result of their service, but they also receive a large bonus"

The Active First program is available to service-eligible men and women in all 54 states and territories All Soldiers who enlisted under the Active First program may choose, at the end of their active-duty service commitment, to re-enlist in the active component or to continue service in the National Guard The Army estimates about 30 percent of Soldiers enlisted under the program will choose to remain on active duty Soldiers enlisting in the program may choose from more than 50 different military occupational specialties, ranging from infantrymen to administrative positions

In January 2007, President George W Bush approved Army plans to increase its end strength by more than 74,000 Soldiers The Army initially planned to spread that increase out over five years and to meet it's goal by 2012 In October, the Army announced it had changed the target date to 2010 The Army plans to meet that goal with increased retention efforts and recruitment programs such as Active First

By C Todd Lopez
Army News Service
Article source: http://www.army.mil/news/



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Fourteen Soldiers. Twelve States. One Competition.

Posted: 2017-07-16  09:45 PM
ARNG BWC One Soldier (junior enlisted) and one NCO (non-commissioned officer) will emerge at the top at the Army National Guard's Best Warrior Competition held at Camp Ripley, Minn., July 17-20, 2017, and move on to represent the Guard in the All-Army Best Warrior Competition in October.

The competitors have been conducting last-minute training since July 12 at Camp Ripley by honing their skills on various weapons, maintaining their physical strength and endurance, and reviewing military tasks.

"I'm feeling very confident," said Cpl. Joseph Garback, a cannon crewmember with B Co., 1st Battalion, 114th Infantry, 50th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, New Jersey National Guard. He's been preparing with the other Region 1 competition winner, Sgt. Zachary Scuncio. Garback says he has really liked the hands-on preparation at Camp Ripley and believes he's had an ample amount of time to prepare.



Minnesota-based Combat Aviation Unit Soars into Battle Phase of Bilateral Training Exercise

Posted: 2017-07-16  09:52 AM
34th CAB CAMP ATTERBURY, Indiana - More than 140 Soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard's 34th Combat Aviation Brigade have established a presence at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, where they are supporting and engaging in high-level military operations and synchronization training.

Members of the St. Paul, Minnesota-based aviation unit, which is adept at providing a wide spectrum of aviation support, recently dove into the battle phase of the bilateral training exercise Talisman Saber 17. Throughout the exercise, much of their training will focus on air-ground integration -- or synchronizing aviation operations into the scheme of maneuver planned and conducted by forces on the ground.



Camp Ripley to host National Guard Best Warrior Competition

Posted: 2017-07-10  10:50 AM
Minnesota National Guard FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 10, 2017

CAMP RIPLEY, Minn.- Fourteen soldiers from 12 states, representing seven Army National Guard regions will compete July 17-20 at Camp Ripley in the Army National Guard's
Best Warrior Competition.

"This competition will test the soldiers' ability to perform tasks that are vital to our ability to fight and win our nation's wars," said Command Sgt. Maj. Douglas Wortham, senior enlisted advisor for the Minnesota National Guard. "We will push them to their limits to test their endurance, strength and resilience - qualities that our soldiers must possess to be successful."

The four-day competition will feature several events to test the soldiers both physically and mentally. The soldiers will demonstrate their proficiency with weapons, their physical strength and endurance, their ability to perform military tasks and their ability to put their knowledge to use under pressure.



National Guard Best Warriors to compete in road march around Lake Itasca

Posted: 2017-07-07  09:18 AM
Minnesota National Guard FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 7, 2017

PARK RAPIDS, Minn.- Fourteen National Guard Soldiers from 12 states will be competing July 17-20, at Camp Ripley in the Army National Guard Best Warrior Competition. As part of the competition, the soldiers will complete a road march around Lake Itasca the morning of July 20, ending at the Mary Gibbs Mississippi Headwaters Center.

Members of the local media and the public are invited to cheer on the soldiers as they finish the road march. Well-wishers can come to the Mary Gibbs Welcome Center, 36750 Main Park Drive, Park Rapids, MN, 56470, on Thursday, July 20, at 8:00 a.m. and are encouraged to bring signs or flags to line the route to the finish line.

The soldiers will be marching on public and private land around Lake Itasca. Wilderness Trail will be temporary closed for a portion of the event. The march route will pass by the Pine Ridge Campground and may be visible to campers there.



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