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Minnesota National Guard
Rosemount National Guard unit prepared for deployment

Motivated group still awaiting news of departure date

For nearly a year, local members of the 1st Battalion, 125th Field Artillery, 34th Infantry Division, a National Guard unit centered in southwest Minnesota, have been preparing for deployment in the Middle East this spring

By: Kari Lucin, Worthington Daily Globe
Published February 27, 2011, 03:00 PM

“I think they’re pretty psyched up about it,” said Staff Sgt Dana Veen, of Worthington “It’s the one thing that they trained for, for so long, and we’re finally getting to go to it I know they’re highly motivated”

None has received individual orders yet with specific times and dates for deployment, and it is possible only part of the brigade will go But all of them have been training hard for a peacekeeping mission abroad — learning about improvised explosive devices (IEDs), first aid and urban tactics

At the same time, they are preparing their families for a possible long absence, updating wills, preparing finances and designating power of attorney when necessary

“My assumption is that some time in April, we’ll know for sure who, by name, is scheduled to go,” said Sgt. 1st Class Robert Newman, readiness non-commissioned officer for Battery A of 1st Battalion, 125th Field Artillery
Then the soldiers have to give their employers 30 days’ notice of deployment — though many of them already have, Newman said The guards who are deployed may have to train their replacements at work or hand their duties off to someone else

“There’s training preparation, and there’s also preparing your family… and then preparing yourself psychologically,” Newman explained

Family preparations have been a major part of the pre-deployment efforts as well, and spouses play an especially important role in the process

“The key to a good deployment is making sure you have a strong spouse or significant other to take care of the things back here at home, so that everybody can concentrate on their jobs over there, and not have to worry about what’s going on over here,” said Veen, who was deployed in 1990 for Desert Storm/Desert Shield with the US Army and Enduring Freedom for England in 2003-2004 with the National Guard

He and his spouse, Tammy, and his children, Tabatha, Shelby, Brandon and Brianna, have discussed the upcoming deployment in detail and all of them understand what it means for the family — all critical to the deployment process

The guards’ preparations for the Middle East have focused on the group’s peacekeeping mission, including medical and first aid training and security work

“It’s not part of our main mission normally, but that’s what we’ve been training on this past year,” Newman said — mostly during their scheduled training times of one weekend a month and two weeks a year

The guards have also been learning about working in a desert environment, setting up traffic control points in the middle of nowhere and performing cordon-and-search operations

“I think we have a good base to build off of, depending on where we actually get assigned,” Newman said “We have a very broad base of skills we’ve trained on and we’re very capable of doing, so we can accomplish a broad range of missions In the National Guard we also bring a variety of personal job skills with us from our everyday lives that make us adaptable to a variety of situations”

“I feel great about it I feel really good,” Veen said “It’s the one thing that you train so long for, and now you get to go and put your skills to the test”

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