| Another big Iraq deployment for Minnesota Guard
by Tim Post, Minnesota Public Radio
More than 1,000 Minnesota National Guard Soldiers are headed to Iraq next spring for a new mission This morning National Guard officials will unveil details of the deployment, which will send 1,037 Minnesota Guard troops to Iraq for about a year
Rosemount, Minn - National Guard officials don't hesitate in describing this latest deployment as a big deal
The mission will put the Minnesota National Guard's 34th Red Bull Infantry Division in charge of tens of thousands of multinational troops, as Iraq begins the task of rebuilding itself
"This is a very large mission for the 34th Infantry Division, and also for the Minnesota National Guard," said Lt Col Kevin Olson, spokesman for the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division Olson is among the Soldiers being deployed to Iraq
The number of Soldiers involved in the mission isn't unusual In recent years, the Guard has deployed more than 1,000 Soldiers at one time to Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan
What's different about this deployment is the mission itself Minnesota troops will be in command of 16,000 multinational troops working to secure Iraq, Olson said
"Our 34th Infantry Division headquarters will actually command all the coalition military operations in eight of Iraq's 18 provinces That's about one-third of the physical territory in Iraq," said Olson
That territory is in the southern part of Iraq It's about the size of Minnesota, and borders Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iran The area is home to 85 million people
The troops being deployed come from all over the state Four hundred and twenty five are part of the Rosemount-based infantry division headquarters, and 350 Soldiers come from an Inver Grove Heights-based special troops battalion
Another 169 are members of a Stillwater-based military police company And the 43 Soldiers who make up the Red Bull Infantry Division band are also being deployed
Past missions in Iraq have had Minnesota troops doing everything from building roads and schools to providing security for bases and military convoys
But this time Minnesota Guard members will be working with others, particularly the Iraq military and police, as they work to secure and rebuild their country, according to Olson
"They'll be working with them, not on the physical on-the-ground security, but larger issues like training systems, operations systems, different leadership tactics and techniques"
More than 17,000 Minnesota Guard troops have been deployed overseas since the terrorist attacks of Sept 11, 2001 This deployment is a return trip for one-third of the troops involved
"Most of them, about 67 percent, this is their first deployment," said Olson "But for the rest it's their second, third -- and in the case of 22 people, it's the fourth time they've gone"
Some 2,600 Minnesota National Guard Soldiers returned home in the summer of 2007 after spending about 16 months in Iraq That was four months longer than they anticipated
There are 1,100 Minnesota National Guard Soldiers in Iraq currently Another 50 are serving in Afghanistan
This deployment is expected to last about a year Troops will head to Ft Lewis in Washington for training from February to April Then they'll head to Iraq They're scheduled to return to Minnesota in February of 2010
Article source: http://www.Minnesota.PublicRadio.org
Litchfield and Local Veteran Honor Gen. John Vessey at Armory Open House
Posted: 2017-03-10 08:50 AM
LITCHFIELD, Minn. -Bruce Cottington, a Navy veteran of WWII and Korea, donated a bronze bust of Gen. John W. Vessey, Jr. to the Litchfield National Guard unit during the armory's public open house event March 4. Cottington, a Litchfield resident, commands the Minnesota Chapter of the Veterans of Underage Military Service. VUMS members enlisted in the military prior to the minimum age requirement in order to serve their country during WWII. Cottington received the bust from Vessey, a fellow VUMS member. Both enlisted in the military at the age of 16.
The highlight of the 334th Brigade Engineer Battalion open house was the unveiling of the sculpture. The unit was very supportive when Cottington proposed donating the sculpture. The Litchfield community has always been very supportive of the National Guard over the years, so the open house was a chance to say 'thanks' to their neighbors. "This was a great opportunity to honor Bruce and to honor Gen. Vessey," said B Co., 334th Brigade Engineer Battalion Commander, Capt. Seth Goreham. Bravo Company also has a tight relationship with the local American Legion and VFW. Many Litchfield citizens are former members of Bravo Company, or the unit's predecessors A Co, 682nd Engineer Battalion, and the 849th Mobility Augmentation Company.
Camp Ripley welcomes new command sergeant major
Posted: 2017-03-08 03:29 PM
CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - The garrison command team of Camp Ripley, family, friends and colleagues from the Minnesota National Guard attended a Change of Responsibility ceremony between Command Sgt. Maj. Mike Worden and Command Sgt. Maj. Matt Erickson, March 5, 2017, at Camp Ripley.
The ceremony was an official "passing of the sword" from one senior noncommissioned officer to the next and assumption of the duties and responsibilities that go along with the position of Garrison Command Sergeant Major.
As with many military ceremonies those in attendance welcomed Erickson as a new member of the team and bid farewell, recognized and thanked Worden for his service.
Norwegian youth recognized for response to vehicle accident
Posted: 2017-02-22 09:59 AM
CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - Norwegian youths Stian Dahl and Haavard Engen received the Camp Ripley Garrison Commander's coin from Col. Scott St Sauver February 19, 2017, in recognition for reacting to a vehicle accident they witnessed earlier that week.
As part of the U.S.-Norway Reciprocal Troop Exchange, Norwegian youths ages 19-20 are matched up with a host family in order to spend an evening experiencing American culture. In most situations the "Buddy Weekend" as it's called allows the youths to go shopping, attend events and have home-cook meals along with their host family.
"We are able to match up youth members with families all over the state," said Staff Sgt. Tim Krouth, Buddy Weekend organizer. "Lots of the families have hosted one or two of our Norwegian friends for several years in a row now, it a great way to relax and see some of Minnesota."
To the top of the mountain and back, NOREX 44 members embrace the Norwegian winter
Posted: 2017-02-21 01:25 PM
HALTDALEN, Norway - After two days at a base camp near Haltdalen, Norway, Minnesota National Guardsmen participating in the 44th Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange were ready for the most challenging aspect of their four-day field training exercise - a ski march up the mountain.
It was Day three of the FTX, meaning members of the 44th Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange had slowly adjusted to surviving and thriving while living in a winter environment and also honed their skills on cross country skills well enough to begin a climb that would take nearly three hours.
"Our goal was to get you to know how to use the winter, see how the Norwegians use the winter, and how we survive the winter so we can conduct combat," said Vidar Aune, one of several members of Home Guard 12 guiding the Minnesota National Guard Soldiers and Airmen during their training here. "By getting the experience living outside in the snow, you manage to survive it and handle it quite well."