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Minnesota National Guard
Gates, Casey visit 1-34th BCT at Camp Adder

CAMP ADDER, Iraq - Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Gen George Casey met Friday with military leaders from US and coalition forces and later held a joint news conference to address recent developments in the Iraq war

The visit to Iraq was Gates' second since replacing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld last month It came in the midst of President George W

Bush's announcement last week to send a surge of 21,500 additional troops to help quell violence and increase security in Baghdad
"Ultimately, our goal is that Iraq can [eventually] defend itself, sustain itself and govern itself," said Gates at the conference

"Whatever one's views are on how we got to this point here in Iraq, at this pivotal moment there is widespread agreement here that failure would be a calamity for American national interests and those of many other countries as well Given what is at stake, failure is not an option"
The current security challenges in Baghdad cannot be dealt with purely by military means, said Gates, referring to the more than 20 countries that are providing "valuable aid and support" in Iraq Gates said he was grateful for their contributions and mentioned seeing the results of their work in the Basra area earlier that morning

"There are instigators of violence who are working against these efforts in Iraq, but many Iraqis recognize this destructive influence and they're taking steps to eliminate it," said Gates "The United States is fully committed to aiding them in this effort"

While at Camp Adder, Gates and Casey also had the opportunity to talk with Col David Elicerio, commander of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division News that the unit's deployment would be extended for 125 days past its original mid-March homecoming came simultaneously with the announcement of the troop surge, which understandably came as a shock to the Soldiers and their families

"The determination of the men and women in uniform, active and Reserve, has been very successful - and I've seen it firsthand," said Gates "We mustn't forget that each one of these Soldiers has family back home I just hope that Americans won't forget each one of these [Soldiers] and their loved ones"

When asked how the Iraqi government was doing to meet its commitment of creating self-sufficient police and military forces, Casey said, "So far, so good"

"We're seeing them come through on those commitments You're going to see some progress gradually over the next 60 to 90 days," said Casey "I think it's probably going to be the summer, late summer, before we get to the point where the people in Baghdad feel safe in their neighborhoods"

Those commitments, Casey said, include the Iraqi government giving its security forces the authority needed to accomplish the mission, keeping political influence out of the process, not providing safe havens for terrorists, and allowing security forces to prosecute or go after anyone who breaks the law

When asked to respond to recent comments in which Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said the threat of insurgents has lasted longer than it should have because the US, specifically, has been slow in arming Iraqi forces, Casey said it was important to remember how far that effort has come since 2003

"The training and equipping of the Iraqi military that has taken place over the last three years started from scratch, started from zero - no bases, no units, no equipment," said Casey "At the end of 2006, we completed the building of what we call the objective counterinsurgency - the Iraqi army that we promised three years ago The completion of equipping them will take place throughout 2007"

Gates' overseas tour began in London and continued to NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium and Afghanistan before he arrived in Iraq Wednesday

By Spc Dustin Perry, 1/34th BCT Public Affairs
1/19/07
Entension of the 1st Brigade Combat Team



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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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