| Iraqi Bedouins seek role in secure future
COB BASRA, Iraq " Sitting on white and red-striped benches under a tent handmade for ease of packing and moving, surrounded in every direction by views of vast desert, unbroken, except for an occasional bush or sandy knoll, leaders of the US and Iraqi Armies met near Basrah, Iraq, Jan 14, with local Bedouin Shaykhs who call this desert home
Maj Gen Richard Nash, United States Division " South commander, and Maj Gen Abdul Aziz Noor Swady al Dalmy, 14th Iraqi Army Div commander, were invited to the land of Shaykh Wabdan and the Sa'adoun tribe confederation to discuss issues affecting Wabdan's tribe, the area around Basrah and relations with the Iraqi Army
After tea, heated over a fire of twigs, and introductions, Shaykh Wabdan started the discussions by stating how the security situation in Basrah has improved over the last few years
Before Operation Charge of the Knights -- the Iraqi Army's mission to cleanse Basrah of militants, which began Mar 2008 -- the Shaykh said the security situation was so bad that outlaws and armed people where always in the streets, and one could regularly expect to see terrorists
"It was very dangerous going to Basrah Every time, going to the city was an adventure; we would always take people as escort and force protection," Wabdan said through a translator "Every person who was loyal to the country was a target"
Thanks to the efforts of the police, the security forces, and especially the Iraqi Army, that has all changed, he said
"Thank God, after the Charge of the Knights we gave all of our weapons to the Army because we didn't need them anymore," Wabdan said through a translator, speaking of his tribe "The Army is very loyal to Iraq"
Aziz and Nash agreed that the security situation has changed for the better, and that all Iraqis play a role
"Security and stability was not achieved only by guns Our greatest support came from the people," Aziz said through a translator "That was the main reason for our success"
With the improving security situation, Wabdan would like to increase his tribe's dealings with the American and Iraqi governments
The large tracks of desert the tribe uses for grazing are mostly uninhabited and fall along Iraq's border This creates the opportunity for the tribe to aid security forces as extra eyes along the border
"They apply the same concept in Saudi Arabia and Jordan," Wabdan said through a translator
The governments of those countries have helped tribes set up cities close to the border In exchange for better access to wells, power and health care, tribes improve security by providing more bodies along the border, an arrangement benefiting both parties, Wabdan said
The generals also took the opportunity to experience a taste of Bedouin lifestyle
The Bedouin culture, while embracing many changes of the modern world, is very traditional and in some ways has been unchanged for centuries The most striking example is large herds of camels shepherded across the desert in search of forage Loyalty to the tribe and family is also important
After a tour of the surrounding desert, with camel rides, a discussion on how deep a well must be to reach safe water and what work must be done to obtain food through the seasons, a traditional dinner of rice and lamb was served
The Shaykh wanted to honor Nash and his visit and have a big crowd, but, at the advice of Aziz, he kept it to immediate family
At a previous election party Wabdan held, he invited only first cousins Over 4,000 people showed up and four 300-meter tents were needed to accommodate them A big party would involve 10,000 people, Aziz said
"I told him no way," he said
When the generous servings of food were gone, Aziz wanted to thank the outgoing Nash, whose command of USD-S will soon be transferred to the 1st Infantry Div
"I want you to have confidence that you left a legacy behind you that we will follow We have learned from your professionalism," Aziz said "You are leaving behind you people who are very loyal to Iraq"
Nash said his thanks and expressed his hope that the safety and security of Basrah will continue and, that now the economy can start to improve
"It's about the next generation," he said "As our mission finishes up here it is up to investors, businessmen and tourists to come to Iraq and to ensure that terrorists and criminals do not take over Iraq again"
The Shaykh also expressed his hopes for Iraq
"The Iraqi people are a good people Sectarian activity will never succeed in our country," he said through a translator "Iraq is for Iraqis, not for terrorists or terrorism; they don't exist in our minds anymore"
"We hope the New Year will be a reconstruction year," he added, "not just for the land but for the spirit too"
By Staff Sgt Chris Carney
20 Jan, 2010
Article source: http://theredbulls.net
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."