| 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/
Local rails get Guard to mission
Posted: 2015-07-02 01:09 PM
CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - Across the state of Minnesota, more than 4,500 miles of active railroad track is used to move material, equipment and passengers - an extension of a system which started on May 22, 1857.
"Burlington Northern - Santa Fe Railway has a rich history supporting our military, reaching back to the Civil War. Today BNSF still works closely with the Department of Defense to coordinate movement of large equipment by rail, including to and from Camp Ripley, near Little Falls," said Amy McBeth, a spokesperson for Burlington Northern - Santa Fe.
In addition to three classifications of railway systems, the federal government identified a system of railroads for the purpose of moving government equipment to support the defense of the United States.
851st Vertical Engineer Company Raises the Roof
Posted: 2015-07-01 08:49 AM
RACINOVIC, Croatia -Members of the 851st Vertical Engineer Company, in conjunction with the Croatian Army and United States European Command, have partnered together to help the small village of Racinovic, Croatia.
The area was hit last year by disastrous flooding that destroyed many of the homes and farms. The closest dam broke, leaving the area under many feet of water and nearly everyone stranded and forced to evacuate.
The Office of Defense Cooperation and Humanitarian Civic Assistance Program helped provide labor, supplies and the people for communities in need all over the world. For this particular project, more than 30 Minnesota National Guardsmen have joined forces with their Croatian counterparts to rebuild the roof of the community center in less than three weeks.
Minnesota National Guard participates in Pride Festival
Posted: 2015-06-30 09:49 AM
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - In observance of LGBT Pride Month the Minnesota National Guard's 347th Regional Support Group hosted a booth at the Minneapolis Pride Festival in Loring Park, June 27-28, 2015, with volunteers from the 147th/247th Financial Management Support Detachments.
According to tcpride.org, "Twin Cities Pride is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit Minnesota corporation that brings the greater LGBT community together to commemorate our diverse heritage, foster inclusion, educate and create awareness of issues, and celebrate achievements in equality."
For many onlookers at the festival, there was an element of surprise with the Minnesota National Guard's presence, but it didn't take long for the outpouring of appreciation and support from the community.
Large-scale exercises test 1/34th ABCT
Posted: 2015-06-29 08:42 AM
CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - In a simultaneous fashion while rolling up to the firing line, Soldiers man the crew-served and main gun weapon systems onboard their M1A1 Abrams tanks and identify targets at Camp Ripley Training Center on June 16, 2015 - the first drill of its kind for some Soldiers of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division.
"While my gunner is firing on a target, my tank commander is engaging a truck using his .50 cal., and I see rounds flying from our wingman who's engaging a tank way out there," said Spc. Ted Coy, an Abrams driver with 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry Regiment. "Seeing all the tracer rounds cross while our platoon is firing at different targets at the same time is one of the coolest things I've ever seen."
The gunnery and maneuver exercise that Coy and his platoon conducted was one of the many integrated training events the 1st ABCT has been conducting during its Exportable Combat Training Capabilities exercises - a training period spanning from May 2015 to August 2015.