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Minnesota National Guard
The Sun Sets on Operation New Dawn

Camp Buehring, Kuwait— The 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen Martin E Dempsey and his wife Deanie shared a meal and conversation Dec 14, 2011 with members of the Minnesota National Guard’s Brainerd-based 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 194th Armor (1-194 CAB) 

The night before he flew north to Baghdad to close the final chapter of Operation New Dawn, Gen Dempsey made a point to attend a dinner engagement with a group of Army leaders at a Camp Buehring dining facility  The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff took this opportunity to ask some unit leaders who directly supported the withdrawal plan for some 360 degree feedback 

The 1-194 (CAB) has had a front row seat in history while conducting 790 convoy escort security missions in their Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, traveling more than 12 million combat miles through 11 of Iraq’s 18 provinces  There was one consensus that resonated among the leadership sitting at this table  The sum total of the unit’s success during the draw down phase of Operation New Dawn was carried on the backs of the fine Soldiers that served under them and the professionalism, fortitude and stamina put forth by these Soldiers exceeded expectations



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Gen Dempsey touched on an important theme with these Minnesota National Guard Soldiers on the totality of this deployment  The Battalion Command Sergeant Major for 1-194 CAB, John Lepowsky said, “I agreed with Gen Dempsey that we must capture and fully understand what our unit has done here in a short period of time  We conducted a train-up for Operation New Dawn, supported the final phase of the Iraq War and now we will transition back to training our force during the remaining time we have here in Kuwait” 

As one can imagine, the conversation would not have been complete if these Minnesota Soldiers did not bring up the 10th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the longest serving active duty member in the United States Army, Minnesota native Gen John W Vessey  The new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had many kind words to say about Gen Vessey and mentioned that he has summoned advice from both Gen Vessey and Gen Colin Powell during his first 90-days in office

The dinner with the highest ranking military officer in the United States Armed Forces and principal military adviser to the President will be forever remembered by these Minnesota National Guard Soldiers     

“The unit training plan for the next few months will focus not only on honing specific military occupational skill (MOS) sets that are perishable, but we will get back to the basics and polish other essential leadership skills that get neglected in a steady state of war,” said Lt. Col. Brian Melton, Battalion Commander, 1-194 (CAB)   

By Capt John M Hobot
Co C, 1-194 AR (CAB)
Commander






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