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Minnesota National Guard
Changes in works at armories across area

MONTEVIDEO — Soldiers in the 1st Battalion, 151st Field Artillery will be equipped this year with the Army’s new M777 howitzer, and their arrival means changes are coming to area armories

Since the new guns have greater accuracy and fire much faster than the M198 howitzers they replace, the Army has decided to outfit the battalion with four guns instead of the current six, according to Lt. Col. Lowell Kruse, commander of the Minnesota National Guard battalion

The new guns also require fewer Soldiers to operate

The reductions mean that fewer artillery Soldiers are needed in the battalion, and that means changes are coming in the duties and where many Soldiers will drill

The most notable — and emotional — change will be in Olivia, according to Kruse It will be changing from its traditional role as an artillery unit to a light transportation unit The Soldiers at the armory will likely be receiving the Pallet Loading System vehicles, he said

The Olivia armory will continue in operation with approximately the same number of Soldiers assigned to it The change in mission should create some command opportunities due to the re-structuring

The battalion’s Bravo Company artillery operations will be consolidated in Madison Olivia-based Soldiers who remain with artillery will drill in Madison

Appleton will see change too, as Charlie Company operations are consolidated in Morris and the Forward Support unit in Appleton is shifted there

The consolidation means the Morris armory will remain in operation and as part of the 151-Field Artillery The Morris and Ortonville armories will remain drill sites for the artillery Soldiers

The Appleton armory will remain open, and its full-time staff will continue duties there, Kruse said

The changes mean new drill sites for many Soldiers, but Kruse noted that many Soldiers already live and work at sites an hour or more from their home armory

He said the new assignments and changes will come incrementally in the weeks ahead The F-151 expects to receive and begin training on the new M777’s in June

Published January 05 2011
By: Tom Cherveny, West Central Tribune

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