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Minnesota National Guard
No drinking fountains in the desert

ALI AL SALEM, Kuwait - Each morning Spc Joseph Lecuyer wakes up before his roommates to start his duty day delivering water throughout the camp Moving wooden pallets stacked with boxes of bottles of water throughout the small camp is a daily task

There are no drinking fountains on Army bases in Kuwait

“It’s a tough job,” explains Lecuyer, from Moundsville, Minn, father of two and grandfather of two The relentless desert sun weakens the cardboard boxes making them easily tear, spilling bottles onto the sand once or twice each morning Lecuyer patiently picks up each bottle and places it back into the damaged box in the shaded area of the water point

Moving pallets requires driving a forklift with a load

“I try to beat the heat and foot traffic,” Lecuyer said referring to the transient Soldiers who are unfamiliar with courtesies of walking around a moving forklift “The forklift has AC, but when it’s too hot, it stops working”

During the summer months, the desert temperatures range above 120 degrees



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Pallets of water are moved throughout the camp to water points consisting of a shed with a roof to protect the precious cargo from the direct sun Water points are mini-distribution centers located closer to the Soldiers passing through the camp on rest and recuperation (R&R) leave, the two week furlough afforded to deployed service men and women Contractors then move the boxes of water indoors and restock the refrigerators so Soldiers have cold water to drink

“You know the saying, the fastest way is from point A to B, but there’s no straight line here,” he said explaining his morning route

The force protection barriers impeded freedom of movement, as intended, to include water delivery

“It’s very frustrating, tedious and not a lot of space to move pallets It’s like a jigsaw puzzle,” Lecuyer explains “I never know how much water will be used each day It all depends on the transient numbers and how hot it was”

Even with the frustration, Lecuyer takes pride in knowing the importance of his job His duty day ends when each water point is replenished

Lecuyer is deployed with the 134th Brigade Support Battalion, 1/34 Brigade Combat Team, Minnesota National Guard He will deploy for one year and will return next summer to his family His unit is responsible for two Camp Command Cells, providing basic life support services to Soldiers and contractors who pass through or live on the camp and there is nothing more basic to life than water

Story and photos by Chief Warrant Officer Daniel McGowan
1st Brigade Combat Team
19 Aug, 2011





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Mission Complete: Bearcats Finish NATO Exercise in Lithuania's Suwalki Gap

Posted: 2017-06-23  02:56 PM
Air Assault Saber Strike PABRADE, Lithuania - At the sound of 17 U.S. Army rotary wing aircraft humming through the air, Soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard's 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry, in addition to Service members of five NATO Allied countries, load onto Black Hawk, Chinook and Apache helicopters, at Kazlu Ruda airstrip during the Saber Strike exercise, June 17, 2017. The multinational effort came together to conduct an air and ground assault in the Suwalki Gap to demonstrate the nations' capability to respond to any hostile act of a potential adversary.

"You could tell on everyone's faces that this was go time," said Sgt. Derrick Bruestle, a team leader for 2-136th CAB, also known as the Bearcats. "It wasn't just a training exercise to them anymore, it was a serious mission with real implications on the real world."

The magnitude of the exercise set in as the first bird lifted off the airstrip and started moving toward the objective in a staggered formation. Saber Strike is a U.S. Army Europe-led NATO exercise meant to exhibit a strengthened partnership of the military assets of the NATO Alliance.



Beyond NATO Commitments, MN State Partnership with Croatia Continues to Grow

Posted: 2017-06-22  10:25 AM
Saber Strike SPP PABRADE, Lithuania - Since 1996, the Minnesota National Guard and the Croatian Armed Forces have been partners in the National Guard's State Partnership Program. Beyond the bond of the NATO commitment, a mutual trust and unique bond has been forged amongst the warriors of each respective nation. From Camp Ripley to Karlovac, the soldiers have found a common cause of continuous improvement. Exercise after exercise, there has been a greater appreciation of one another's culture and customs.

You don't have to look to far to see this dynamic. When asked if he had ever worked with Minnesota National Guardsmen before, 1Lt Emanuel Hamer of the Croatian Armed Forces said, "This is my fourth time working with 2-136 "Bearcats," each time we grow closer and stronger. I feel like they are members of my unit. I'm glad I have this opportunity to learn new techniques and share some of our own with the Americans."



7 Nations, 4 Branches, 1 Mission; Saber Strike '17

Posted: 2017-06-20  02:14 PM
Saber Strike 17 PABRADE, Lithuania - As the sun begins to set on the Lithuanian countryside, the final touches are put on the camouflage netting designed to break the silhouette and conceal the position of the Tactical Action Center, or TAC, of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division on June 17, 2017. As part of the multinational exercise of Saber Strike '17, the 1/34th ABCT is providing support to the Air Assault Task Force Commander, Col. Charles Kemper.

As the first ever combined air and ground assault in the annual Saber Strike exercise, this year's exercise has set a milestone in testing the compatibility of seven nations and all military branches.

"We want to reassure all of our NATO Allies that we are in this together," said Kemper. "We're part of the team and we can demonstrate capability."



Minnesota Aviators complete successful eXportable Combat Training Capability exercise

Posted: 2017-06-20  08:30 AM
XCTC FORT HOOD, Texas - Soldiers from the Minnesota National Guard's 2-147th Assault Helicopter Battalion wrapped up support for an eXportable Combat Training Capability (XCTC) exercise at Fort Hood, Texas, recently. The unit was part of Task Force Ragnar, the exercise's aviation element, supporting the Tennessee National Guard's 278th Armored Calvary Regiment as they prepare for a rotation to the National Training Center in 2018.

"Our mission is to support a brigade element here," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 John Otremba, with the 2-147. "But I think our ultimate mission is to train for an austere environment which sets us up for success at NTC next year."

The task force conducted aviation support missions including air assault, sling load, deliberate attack, defensive positioning and key leader escorts. They also conducted aviation-specific training in personnel recovery, downed aircraft recovery, field maintenance and air traffic control operations.



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