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Minnesota National Guard
Exercise, Exercise, Exercise!

CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait - We've all seen photos of squads responding to an improvised explosive device  We secure as required, stabilize casualties, and move out of the kill zone  But what happens when that device is a rocket or mortar?  What happens if it is not a patrol and it is on an Army post that does not move?  Members of the 134th Brigade Support Battalion, from the Minnesota National Guard, face those questions every day to identify scenarios, make changes to prevent them, and train to react

The exercise begins with a phone call to the Emergency Operations Center (EOC)  Spc Tracy White, from Morris, Minn, answers and gathers as much detail as possible  Sgt 1st Class Christian Hudson, from Elk River, Minn, begins the notification list  The EOC can borrow the description applied to combat; hours of boredom interspaced with moments of sheer terror  Exercises are designed to change terror into focused, effective actions



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Force protection exercises are a necessary part of Army life  The intricacies change when a unit becomes a Command Cell, responsible for everything from sanitation contracts to force protection Calling in a 9-line MEDEVAC request takes on a new meaning when the call and response are under the same command  Coordinating Army, Air Force, Navy and non-military contactors adds the idiosyncrasies of each organization  The Army medic says the patient is a "˜B'  The fire department asks if the patient is a Yellow or a Red  Communication issues are important but not the only reason for doing exercises 

When asked to summarize the intent of exercises, 1st Lt Duane Kimball replied, "Muscle memory; like fire drills in kindergarten"  He describes how people do not panic when they recognize a situation and have a ready response  He further described that we may know how to do what needs to be done, but we need to make sure it is fresh in everyone's minds   

1st Lt Michael Buchan, 26 from St Paul, Minn, is the force protection officer for the 134th Brigade Support Battalion  He wants to increase the complexity and detail of future exercises  "We are coordinating with Emergency Management so they can incorporate more of their procedures into the training"  It becomes a test of "˜Spy vs Spy' as one medic writes a scenario to see if the other medics are following the correct processes 

Each functional area in a response has to remain proficient in their area  Force protection plans and exercises are modular, flexible, and scale to the actual need  Every scenario is different and there is often not a "˜best' solution  Incident commanders have to know their resource capabilities and be comfortable with the response process    

It is difficult to be surprised when "˜the call' comes in to the EOC  Maj Bruce Kelii, from Bloomington, Minn, just happens to be in the area with a notepad and pen  The element of surprise is lost, but exercise still goes as planned  Well, mostly as planned  The post-wide announcement system begins its monthly test half way through the exercise clearly announcing a direct attack  Two medics on their way home for R&R show up at the Troop Medical Clinic to help As General Eisenhower said, "plans are worthless, but planning is everything" 
 
26 Sept, 2011
Story and photos by Chief Warrant Officer Daniel McGowan
Unit Public Affairs Representative
1st Brigade Combat Team







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Operation Future Warrior, rain or shine

Posted: 2017-05-24  01:12 PM
Operation Future Warrior More than 900 recruits from the Minnesota National Guard came to Camp Ripley Friday through Sunday for Operation Future Warrior.

Young men and women who volunteered to join the Minnesota Army National Guard got to experience a small taste of basic training and military training during the three-day event.

"The intent of Operation Future Warrior is removing the mystery of the training recruits will experience when attending Basic Combat and Advance Individualized Training," said Lt. Col. Eduardo Suarez, recruiting and retention battalion commander.



St. Paul-based Combat Aviation Brigade welcomes new senior enlisted leader

Posted: 2017-05-23  08:03 AM
Hellkamp ARDEN HILLS, Minn. - The Minnesota National Guard's 34th Combat Aviation Brigade welcomed a new senior enlisted leader during a change of responsibility ceremony, May 21, 2017, at the Arden Hills Army Training Site.

Command Sgt. Maj. Mitchell Hellkamp assumed duties as the unit's senior noncommissioned officer (NCO) from Command Sgt. Maj. Stephen Cunnien, who served in the position for the past two years and will be retiring from the military later this year.

"Command Sgt. Maj. Cunnien is one of the finest leaders that I have worked with in my career," said Col. Shawn Manke, commander of the 34th CAB. "He sets the example for all noncommissioned officers and Soldiers to emulate. He is a true professional, as a visible leader and teacher for the Soldiers of the combat aviation brigade. We're grateful for his many years of service, and we wish him well as he closes out his military career and enters the next chapter in his life."



Families recognized for sacrifices during Guard deployment

Posted: 2017-05-22  10:57 AM
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"I often tell Soldiers and truly believe that as hard as our jobs are at times, our families have the harder job at home," said Lt. Col. Kevin O'Brien, commander of the 2-147 Assault Helicopter Battalion. "Because Army family members have a unique burden that many of their friends and families cannot understand, they form family readiness groups, or FRGs, to share information and provide support to one another."

The company's FRG leader, Rhiannon Knutson, wife of Chief Warrant Officer 2 Tom Knutson, was in constant contact with the unit's families and went above and beyond what is normally expected of FRG leaders, said the unit's readiness non-commissioned officer, Sgt. 1st Class Mark Wood.



Camp Ripley's Training Support Unit keeps the base running

Posted: 2017-05-16  12:41 PM
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"The Training Support Unit's (TSU) primary focus is to support unit training requirements and ensure smooth operations here on Camp Ripley and the Arden Hills Army Training Site in the metro," said Sgt. 1st Class Terry Clabo, Training Support Unit Readiness NCO.

Camp Ripley features numerous ranges and state-of-the-art training facilities to support military, law enforcement, first responder and inter-agency partner training requirements. The installation is structured to have a full complement of automated small arms and large caliber weapon ranges as well as several specialized training facilities.



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