Minnesota National Guard
Citizen Soldiers train for deployment

In today's Army, deploying units are comprised of not just active-duty Soldiers, but also Reserves and National Guardsmen.

About 150 "citizen Soldiers" from the 34th Combat Aviation Brigade trained during a 10-day exercise here Nov. 7-16 for their upcoming Iraq deployment next year.

Soldiers from 11 states, including the 34th CAB's headquarters in Minnesota make up the unit, according to its commander Lt. Col. Clay Brock.

Brock said the purpose of the aviation training exercise is to replicate conditions the unit will face in Iraq, particularly for Soldiers serving in staff positions.

Reserve-component units generally deploy for about one year. Previously, the units would train for four or five months prior to deploying, but this is just the first of three training exercises the unit will participate in before deploying next year, Brock said.

"In order to maximize the time in theater, we had to change how we do business. No longer can we afford for a unit to be on a deployed status and train for four or five months - we have to do that training at our home station," he said. "We do a lot of training at the different states to help preset the conditions for success at the mobilization station where we focus more on the collective training aspects."

With the training spread out over a longer period of time, Soldiers get to spend more time at home.

The 34th CAB Command Sgt. Maj. Gary Thesing said this training exercise is the first time the Soldiers will use Command Posts of the Future digital systems and the technology they'll have downrange, which will be invaluable.

Lt. Joe Munger, a 34th CAB intelligence officer from Farmington, Minn., said the training exercise gave him a chance to work with other people in his section. Munger said he deployed to Baghdad previously and the upcoming deployment will be his second tour.

"(The exercise) reinforces teambuilding. In a National Guard unit, we don't always get to train together doing what we're going to do in theater," he said. "This exercise tests our ability to analyze the data coming in and we have to produce intelligence for the command and for the pilots so they can perform the missions. This is an outstanding facility. The (technology) is phenomenal."

Sgt. Christian Gay, 34th CAB flight operations noncommissioned officer from Hammond, La., agreed this exercise brings the Soldiers from different states together and gets them in the same mindset.

"It helps build our relationships with our co-units from other states instead of being thrown into a mix at the mobilization station," he said. "This training is a lot different than what I received before (my Iraq deployment in 2004-2005). We didn't have joint exercises. This is a very good exercise for us."

One 34th CAB Soldier who is new to deployment preparation, Sgt. Deshaundra Green, an administrative specialist from Dallas, said she received real-world training during the exercise.

"I've learned a lot. (The trainers) are throwing a lot of different scenarios at me to get me in the mind frame and to ensure I'm knowledgeable," she said. "I was a little nervous before I got here, but the experience has been very enjoyable."

Assisting in the training were members of the 1st Brigade, 75th Battle Command Training Division from Houston and the 166th Aviation Brigade from Fort Riley, Kan.

There is a key difference between the two units' responsibilities, according to Col. Robert Samborski, senior observer/controller/trainer. The 166th Avn. Bde. will stay with the 34th CAB during its training, through the time it mobilizes to the time they deploy. The 75th BCTD is mission-specific and only comes to training events and augments and helps with the training process.

"That's a dynamic piece because the 166th Avn. Regt. will be with the 34th CAB until they deploy, and that's really important," Samborski said.

The 1st Bde., 75th BCTD representatives' goal is to ensure their training goes smoothly and guides them through a yearlong training process, according to Col. (P) Jimmie Jaye Wells, 1st Bde, 75th BCTD commander

"Our function is to plan, coordinate and execute staff training and all that encompasses combat units, combat support units and combat service support units, in support of what is called the Army Force Generation Model. That dictates where units are in a training cycle," Wells said. "We specifically work with units prior to their departure for deployments and we assist them in a yearlong process. We take them through a series of culminating events that takes them through a "˜crawl, walk, run' method of training."

The Soldiers must complete realistic missions and use accurate and up-to-date terrain maps of the area while the trainers incorporate stressors into the different exercises to allow the Soldiers to examine the situation and make the best decision on a minute's notice, Wells said.

"The pilots get to fly over an exact replica (of the) terrain they'll see in Iraq," Wells said.

Sgt. Maj. Scott Bailey, 1st Battalion, 291st Aviation Regiment, 166th Aviation Brigade, said his unit monitors the 34th CAB throughout the military decision-making process.

"(The 34th CAB) starts in very small-scale operations that will culminate into one large event," he said. "At the end, we'll have an (after action review) where we'll give them tips on what they did well or what they need to improve on."

The value of the experience the 34th CAB Soldiers receive here is immeasurable, Bailey added.

The unit is training at Fort Rucker's Aviation Warfighting Simulation Center because of its ability to train a large number of Soldiers using the same equipment they'll use downrange, Samborski said.

The facility has all the tools the Soldiers will have in-country and replicates specific scenarios to give them hands-on experience before they deploy. Fort Rucker offers graduate-level training, according to Samborski.

"This is the premier aviation training facility," he said.

By Michelle Owens
Army Flier Staff Writer

Article source: http://www.MontgomeryAdvertiser.com/

Articles archive

In The News archive

Media Advisory archive

Latest News

Minnesota Guard leaders inducted into Court of Honor

Posted: 2015-10-07  11:02 AM
Court of Honor CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - Seven retired members of the Minnesota National Guard were recognized before their fellow service members as they were inducted into the Court of Honor, Oct. 4, 2015, at Camp Ripley.

"It is our pleasure to have the opportunity to recognize these select leaders who have served our communities, state and nation with distinction," said Col. John Kolb, chief of staff for Joint Force Headquarters.

The Memorialization Board selects individuals for their service to the Minnesota National Guard as well as continued service to their communities. The board reviews the nominations received and forwards their recommendations to the Minnesota Adjutant General for approval. These inductees join the names of more than 300 others, since 1933, who have demonstrated their unwavering dedication, loyalty and distinguished service to the Minnesota National Guard.

Willmar National Guard Unit Set To Deploy

Posted: 2015-10-05  11:04 AM
Minnesota National Guard FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 5, 2015

WILLMAR, Minn.- More than 150 Soldiers from the Minnesota Army National Guard's Willmar-based 682nd Engineer Battalion will deploy for an eleven-month mobilization in support of Operation Spartan Shield.

"The deploying Soldiers of the 682nd Engineer Battalion are eager to begin the deployment to Kuwait. This will be the first deployment for two-thirds of the unit, they are ready to create their own deployment experience," said Lt. Col. Keith Ferdon, battalion commander.

"Our battalion will be part of Task Force Wild in Kuwait. As a Minnesota hockey fan that is pretty cool. Our battalion has the mission of managing engineer sustainment operations throughout the Middle East, meaning we manage road and building infrastructure maintenance for coalition forces," said Ferdon.

Minnesota combat medic training center named for famous WWII nurse

Posted: 2015-10-05  09:26 AM
MSTC Zach Kayser CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - The Minnesota National Guard on Sunday dedicated its new combat medical training center in honor of Brainerd-native and famous WWII nurse Hortense McKay. She is the first female soldier to have a building named for her at Camp Ripley.

The Medical Simulation Training Center, which opened in May of 2014, specializes in training soldiers how to treat wartime wounded. It caters both to soldiers whose main role is being a combat medic (called "68Ws" in Army parlance) and to regular frontline soldiers looking to learn rudimentary lifesaving skills. Eventually, staff hope to train 2,500 people a year in the art of repairing bodies broken by combat.

Like the rest of Camp Ripley, the MSTC puts soldiers through the most stressful testing simulation possible. Strobe lights and loudspeakers recreate the distracting stimuli of combat, and the mannequins soldiers operate on display gruesome wounds that spew blood.

Last 133rd Airlift Wing Vietnam-Era Veteran Retires

Posted: 2015-09-30  01:56 PM
Michael Stephen Phillips ST. PAUL, Minn. - Master Sgt. Michael Stephen Phillips, the last Vietnam-era veteran to actively serve in the 133rd Airlift Wing, was honored for his 35 years of service at a retirement ceremony at the 133rd's dining facility, Aug. 23, 2015.

An 18-year-old Phillips first joined the active-duty Air Force on Sep. 18, 1973, as a security police specialist and was stationed at the 148th Fighter Wing (when it was still an active duty base) in Duluth. Following a seven-year break in service after his initial four-year enlistment ended, Phillips' wife saw an ad on television for a special program in the National Guard, prompting his return to service.

"Back then they had what was called the Try-1 program for prior active duty members to join the Guard. It allowed you to sign up for a year and see if you liked it," said Phillips. "If it didn't work out, you could get out, and if it did ... well, I ended up staying for another 31 years!"

Article archive