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Minnesota National Guard
Task Force Aviation: Flying High Over the Twin Cities

By Pvt Cassandra Monroe
135th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
Iowa National Guard


ST PAUL, Minn " Task Force Aviation, based at Holman Field near the St Paul Municipal Airport, stands ready for any rapid reaction air transport needs that may come their way during the Republican National Convention

Task Force Aviation, made up of Minnesota National Guard aviators and aircraft from surrounding states, is supporting local and federal law enforcement agencies by providing rapid, aviation-lift capability in the unlikely event a significant incident occurs  

These aviators have been preparing for this mission for months

"We put the plan together, and figured out what we could and could not support, helicopter wise," said Col Mike Huddleston, the state Army Aviation officer for the Minnesota National Guard "We've made sure we put the right crews with the right mix, as well as understanding what the other sister agencies are bringing forward for supporting the convention"

One big advantage these Minnesota National Guard aviators have is that they know this area very well, said Huddleston "We can fly just about anywhere, and get there quicker than anyone else, as well as get into the area fairly easily," he said

While speed is important, so is the unit's ability to move people and equipment  "We've got the capability to transport a good number of equipment and personnel," said Huddleston "A UH-60 Black Hawk can fit about 12 people, while a CH-47 Chinook can carry about 30 to 35 people"

Sgt Nathaniel Ernst is a crew chief whose duties include aircraft maintenance, preparing the aircraft for flight operations and controlling passengers on the aircraft during flights

"We're expected to respond between 15 to 30 minutes," said Ernst "We're here on 12-hours shifts, so anytime a call comes in, we'll be prepared"
           
Preparing for this mission was not without its challenges A big concern was getting enough aircraft and personnel ready to go for the mission, since some Minnesota aviation units are deployed or waiting for aircraft to return from deployments, said Ernst

"Our team borrowed aircraft from different states, such as North Dakota, Wisconsin and Michigan in order to prepare for the mission," he said
           
Although some Task Force Aviation members just returned from deployment, their transition has gone well, which helped them prepare for this mission


"We recently got back from Iraq about a month ago, and we were given the word back then to start making initial plans for that the convention," said Chief Warrant Officer Curtis Skoog, a standardization instructor pilot with the 2nd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 147th Aviation

"It's great to be back The deployment went really well for the unit You want to get back with your families and reestablish relationships So coming back to work has been an easy transition We've been planning on this convention for a couple months," said Skoog

Overseas deployments have increased these aviators' skills and experience, and helped them prepare for this mission  "It's a breath of fresh air to give crews a left and right limit, and you know they're going to take that ball and run with the product you need, which is supporting the task force commander for anything he may need," said Huddleston, of some of the crew's recent deployments
           
"I think as a whole, were doing an outstanding job," said Huddleston "We're like the lifeguard, you never need them, but when you do, we're right here The crew has a small frame of time to get out and be there, ready to respond We're excited to support this event and we're just having a lot of fun"

September 2, Task Force Aviation: Flying High Over the Twin Cities - Low-Res




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Norex 2016 Magazine.pdf

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Minnesota National Guard conducts react to contact drills with Montenegro Armed Forces

Posted: 2016-09-14  10:13 AM
Immediate Response 16 U.S. and Montenegrin Soldiers tested their ability to perform battle drills that included squad attacks, react to contact, break contact, and react to ambush while supporting Immediate Response 16 at the Croatian Armed Forces training area of Slunj, Croatia.

"Training like IR16 gets the younger Soldiers the experience in a little more than just what we do at home by going to a different country, seeing a different culture, meeting different people, establishing relationships that you would never get if you go overseas," said Sgt. George Langstaff, a squad leader assigned to the Minnesota National Guard's 2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry.

The exercise and simulations are built upon a decisive action-based scenario and are designed to enhance regional stability, strengthen allied and partner nation capacity, and improve interoperability among partner nations.



University of Minnesota, Minnesota National Guard partner for crisis simulation exercise

Posted: 2016-09-13  04:28 PM
Disaster Simulation Exercise CANNON FALLS, Minn. - The Minnesota National Guard partnered with the University of Minnesota and other humanitarian organizations in a collaborative program to train students and prospective humanitarian aid workers during a three-day Humanitarian Crisis Simulation exercise at the Phillippo Scout Reservation in Cannon Falls, Sept. 9-11, 2016.

"A goal is to help students gain an appreciation of humanitarian work by putting them in an environment typical of humanitarian crises," said Dr. Eric James, co-instructor for the course. "We put the students into complex scenarios so they can apply the knowledge and skills learned from the course. They get to experience first-hand the stress of making a decision under pressure while providing aid to refugees in an unfamiliar country."

The Minnesota National Guard has participated in the exercise for the past four years, strengthening interagency relationships with local and international humanitarian organizations.



Minnesota National Guard hosts fun run to bring awareness to suicide prevention efforts

Posted: 2016-09-09  11:12 AM
Minnesota National Guard FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 9, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn.- The Minnesota National Guard is hosting a "Power of One" Fun Run, Sunday, September 11, during National Suicide Prevention Week to call attention to suicide prevention efforts in the military and civilian communities.

The run will take place at the Benjamin Franklin Readiness Center in Arden Hills and will help Minnesota Guardsmen meet annual suicide prevention training requirements while building unit cohesion and encouraging connectedness between battle buddies, family members and local community resource providers. The run emphasizes the power that one individual has to save a life and prevent suicide.

"The Minnesota National Guard is committed to preventing suicides in our organization," said Maj. Gen. Rick Nash, Minnesota National Guard Adjutant General. "We are continually looking for new ways to bring the suicide prevention message to our Service members. Our people are our most precious resource and one loss to suicide is one too many."



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