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Minnesota National Guard
Minn. Nat'l Guard soldiers leave for training (video)

6:01 PM, Apr 17, 2011  


GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn -- Fifty-five Minnesota Army National Guard soldiers left for training overnight Saturday for a one-year deployment in Afghanistan

Those soldiers will train at Fort Dix in New Jersey, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom The goal is to help Afghanistan run well on its own The battalion will be split up into three groups

"The three missions the NATO soldiers will be taking part in is training field artillery soldiers, training infantry soldiers, and training Afghan soldiers in counter-insurgency," Major Paul Rickert said

Rickert is with the Minnesota National Guard's 1st Brigade Combat Team and will also be heading overseas in the next few months His mission is between Kuwait and Iraq 

"We will have soldiers going over the border everyday Part of our mission is convoy security We'll be bringing food and supplies over to Iraq"

Soldiers continue heading overseas, even though President Obama says an Afghanistan drawdown will begin July 2011

"The concern is if we just disappeared in a short time period, the Taliban could come back in," Senator Amy Klobuchar said "At the same time, we can not afford to be there forever We have to start a gradual drawdown and the time to start is this summer"

Rickert added: "The best way to do that is bring in fresh soldiers, who are trained and ready to do that mission, so the soldiers completing their mission in Iraq are escorted out safely," he said

Obama says the Iraqi drawdown should be completed by 2012 

Klobuchar said Minnesota's National Guard continues to play a vital part in Afghanistan's future

"That is because we have unique soldiers who come from leadership, many from rural areas, they go in and help a town get its act together"

(Copyright 2011 by KARE All Rights Reserved)

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