/*********************************************** * Chrome CSS Drop Down Menu- (c) Dynamic Drive DHTML code library (www.dynamicdrive.com) * This notice MUST stay intact for legal use * Visit Dynamic Drive at http://www.dynamicdrive.com/ for full source code ***********************************************/
History
Minnesota National Guard
Short haul, long night

The 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 194th Armor's Delta Company are nicknamed the "Drifters"�, which is fitting title considering the unit's role as a Convoy Security Team (CST) in the drawdown of American forces in Iraq

As the number of troops in Iraq dwindles, so does the amount of equipment that has played a part in sustaining nearly a decade of war

The Drifters and other companies throughout the Minnesota National Guard's 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, earn their keep by providing convoy route security for both military and civilian trucks as they navigate the still dangerous roads of Iraq

The convoys leaving Kuwait typically include empty flatbed trailers to be loaded with equipment when they arrive in Iraq

Before a convoy can leave Kuwait, there is a laundry list of things to do First, the Drifter's must ensure all of their radio and communication equipment is functional on the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle These are the vehicles that are tasked with providing security



Download photos

Maintaining this equipment is vital as it provides the Drifters with the ability to communicate with other MRAPs on their convoy

After those checks are complete, the civilian truck drivers are briefed on the mission and what is expected of them on that night's convoy�  In order to bridge the language gap, the truck commander will go through a series of large posters written in both Arabic and English

Following the briefs, drivers and Soldiers board their vehicles and depart for Iraq

The first stop is the border checkpoint known as "K-Crossing" Upon arriving at K-Crossing, the MRAPs are topped off with fuel and staged for the drive north

As the CST for this particular convoy, their mission is to ensure the route to Camp Adder is free of threats Typically they are looking for hidden explosives on the side of the road and suspicious vehicles that might be carrying insurgents

The Drifters move slowly and meticulously up the Iraqi highway using high powered lights to scan the side of the road for anything unusual, whether it is a rock that appears out of place or an unnatural part of the landscape that could be hiding an explosive device

The CSTs travel through areas that have seen previous threats The driver, Pfc Adam Erb, a tanker from Minneapolis, Minn keeps the speed down to provide the truck commander, Staff Sgt Scott Whittemore, a tanker from Pequot Lakes, Minn, a clear view of the road

The same can be said for gunner Sgt Chad Swenson, another tanker from Elk River, Minn Swenson pokes out the top of the truck's turret and scans the road with sophisticated optics mounted to his machine gun

In addition to darkness, Swenson must also deal with the elements of the harsh Iraqi desert

"It is hot in the summer, but don't ever let anyone tell you the desert isn't cold," he said after temperatures dropped to 39 degrees Fahrenheit

While this group of Drifters is well focused on the mission at hand, they also keep the mood as light as possible It is not uncommon to hear laughter mixed in with some of the chatter going on over the vehicle's intercom radio system

Three hours out of K-Crossing the group pulled over to get a count on the semi-trucks in the convoy It is common for the truck drivers to make wrong turns and occasionally break down making it imperative to maintain accountability for all vehicles on the convoy

Sgt Swenson counts aloud over the radio from his gunner's hatch so Staff Sgt Whittemore is assured every vehicle is where it is supposed to be If a truck does fall out of the convoy, it may be up to one of the Drifters to go track it down, making for an even longer night

Fortunately, all of the trucks were accounted for and after a short break, the Drifters were ready to make the final push to Camp Adder

For Staff Sgt Whittemore, commanding a CST becomes an art form, "Clearing the route for other vehicles to follow, really paints the picture for the entire convoy I can do whatever I feel is necessary to ensure the security of the convoy behind us"

After nearly six hours on the road, the sun begins to rise in southern Iraq The Drifters roll through the gate at Camp Adder with everyone on the convoy safe and accounted for

From here the Drifters will fuel up their vehicles and grab some breakfast before heading to cramped transient housing for some well-deserved sleep It is now 9 o'clock in the morning

When the Drifters wake, they will start the process all over again, only this time they will be heading south to Kuwait to await orders for their next mission

Story and photos by Spc Bob Brown
1st Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs
8 Nov, 2011






Articles archive

In The News archive

Media Advisory archive

Latest News

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
Welcome Home ST. CLOUD, Minn. - Soldiers of B Co., 2-211th General Support Aviation Battalion were welcomed home May 20, 2017, at the River's Edge Convention Center in St. Cloud, Minnesota. During the ceremony, families were recognized for their sacrifices during the year-long deployment.

"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
Camp Ripley CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - The Camp Ripley Training Support Unit is designated to the care, upkeep and assistance to the installation and those utilizing the facility.

"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.



Article archive
 
top