| 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
Entension of the 1st Brigade Combat Team
Camp Ripley strikes first before wildfire season
Posted: 2017-03-24 10:19 AM
CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - Every spring Camp Ripley begins its annual controlled burn program to help reduce the risk of wildfire during training.
"Usually the burns are completed every spring before the summer annual training season begins," said Tim Notch, training area coordinator on Camp Ripley. "However, the warmer weather conditions provide a nice opportunity for preventative burns earlier this season."
As in years past Camp Ripley will conduct controlled burns on approximately 13,000 acres of the 53,000-acre military reservation. The burns are done in coordination with the staffs of the Camp Ripley Department of Public Works and the Camp Ripley Environmental Department along with support from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Minnesota Guardsman earns recognition through Leads 2 Enlistment program
Posted: 2017-03-23 09:46 AM
DULUTH, Minn. - Pfc. Trevor Nelson received the Minnesota Distinguished Recruiting Ribbon and a Minnesota Recruiting and Retention Battalion medallion for excellence from Command Sgt. Maj. Curtis Serbus, March 18, 2017, at the Duluth Armory. Nelson earned these awards as part of the online referral system, Leads 2 Enlistment for referring four friends who have joined the Minnesota National Guard.
"I talked to some buddies in my school about the Guard. They liked the benefits, so I put their info in the app and let my recruiter take over." said Nelson. "I thought it would be fun to serve with friends and help them figure out their path in life."
Nelson is currently a senior at Cloquet Senior High School and assigned to the Recruit Sustainment Program in Duluth. He attended basic training at Fort Benning in the summer of 2016 with follow-on training in the summer of 2017 to become an infantryman.
Litchfield and Local Veteran Honor Gen. John Vessey at Armory Open House
Posted: 2017-03-10 08:50 AM
LITCHFIELD, Minn. -Bruce Cottington, a Navy veteran of WWII and Korea, donated a bronze bust of Gen. John W. Vessey, Jr. to the Litchfield National Guard unit during the armory's public open house event March 4. Cottington, a Litchfield resident, commands the Minnesota Chapter of the Veterans of Underage Military Service. VUMS members enlisted in the military prior to the minimum age requirement in order to serve their country during WWII. Cottington received the bust from Vessey, a fellow VUMS member. Both enlisted in the military at the age of 16.
The highlight of the 334th Brigade Engineer Battalion open house was the unveiling of the sculpture. The unit was very supportive when Cottington proposed donating the sculpture. The Litchfield community has always been very supportive of the National Guard over the years, so the open house was a chance to say 'thanks' to their neighbors. "This was a great opportunity to honor Bruce and to honor Gen. Vessey," said B Co., 334th Brigade Engineer Battalion Commander, Capt. Seth Goreham. Bravo Company also has a tight relationship with the local American Legion and VFW. Many Litchfield citizens are former members of Bravo Company, or the unit's predecessors A Co, 682nd Engineer Battalion, and the 849th Mobility Augmentation Company.
Camp Ripley welcomes new command sergeant major
Posted: 2017-03-08 03:29 PM
CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - The garrison command team of Camp Ripley, family, friends and colleagues from the Minnesota National Guard attended a Change of Responsibility ceremony between Command Sgt. Maj. Mike Worden and Command Sgt. Maj. Matt Erickson, March 5, 2017, at Camp Ripley.
The ceremony was an official "passing of the sword" from one senior noncommissioned officer to the next and assumption of the duties and responsibilities that go along with the position of Garrison Command Sergeant Major.
As with many military ceremonies those in attendance welcomed Erickson as a new member of the team and bid farewell, recognized and thanked Worden for his service.