| Soldiers in Kuwait will act as response force
15,000 are staying in the tiny country, at least for now
By Michelle Tan - Staff writer
Posted : Saturday Jan 14, 2012 8:39:16 EST
Nearly 15,000 soldiers are now deployed to Kuwait — including two brigade combat teams and a combat aviation brigade — as the mission there evolves and the US works to maintain a combat-capable presence in the unstable region
“This is a larger contingent than we’ve typically had,” a senior Army official, who spoke on background, told Army Times
“Working with the Kuwaitis to have a US presence there is very helpful as far as general regional security is concerned,” the official said
What remains to be seen is whether troop levels, particularly among the combat units, will remain in the long term
In November, after the US withdrawal from Iraq was announced and officials were trying to determine whether some forces should remain in the region, the defense minister for Kuwait was quoted as saying the Arab state would only be used as a transit point for troops
A military official told Army Times that it’s likely the US will have a “continued presence in Kuwait, similar to before 2003”
Details of that presence — the number of troops and their makeup — are still in negotiations with the Kuwaiti government, said the official, who asked to remain anonymous
For years, Kuwait has been the primary hub for troops moving in and out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and most of the troops there were merely transiting through on their way to war or back home
“What we had in the past, we had forces to provide security as we rotated units in and out of theater,” the official said “The forces [in Kuwait] at the time had the administrative function of in-processing and out-processing and the security of those forces In the past we didn’t leave combat units in Kuwait”
Now, the US has forces in Kuwait that are capable of responding to contingencies if needed, the official said
“The mission of Kuwait at the beginning, it was a staging area, a [reception, staging, onward movement and integration] station,” the official said “Now it’s a platform, a final destination, so to speak, for contingency forces that can be used in the [Central Command] theater”
As of Jan 5, soldiers from 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, of Fort Hood, Texas, and 1st BCT, 34th Infantry Division, of the Minnesota National Guard were the two primary brigade-sized units deployed to Kuwait In addition, the 29th Combat Aviation Brigade from the Maryland National Guard also is in Kuwait, moving there after serving as the last CAB in Iraq
The 1st Cavalry Division brigade moved to Kuwait after serving the first half of its tour in Iraq and will remain in Kuwait until it completes a 12-month deployment this summer
The brigade will serve as the mobile response force in the Central Command area of responsibility, 1st Lt Kelly McManus, spokeswoman for 1st BCT, 1st Cavalry Division, wrote in an email to Army Times
“We will operate with our standard equipment and in doing so provide a force that is both immediately available and augments a joint team that stands as a strong deterrent against those who wish to harm the US and/or its allies,” McManus said
In Kuwait, the soldiers will have the opportunity to train in one of the “most permissive training environments anywhere in the world and under some of the hardest conditions,” she said
Activities will include training, exercises and partnering with military allies in the region, she said
The brigade’s mission changed twice before soldiers learned the brigade had been tapped to remain in Kuwait after the Iraq withdrawal was complete, McManus said
“Upon receiving notification that we were going to continue our one-year deployment in Kuwait, the chain of command immediately reinstated R&R [rest and recuperation] at an accelerated rate in order to ensure that all soldiers will have the opportunity to take their two-week leave,” she said “In fact, we were allowed to send more than usually allowed home over the holidays”
Soldiers from 1st BCT, 34th Infantry Division, were sent to Kuwait to perform a security force mission and provide security for US troops during the withdrawal from Iraq
The soldiers, who mobilized in May, are expected to return home in the spring
The aviation soldiers, who were mobilized in August and are scheduled to come home this summer, will focus on training and partnership-building activities with countries in the region during their time in Kuwait
“The initial purpose for them was to provide security as we were pulling back units in Iraq,” the senior Army official said “Now [all three units] are a contingency force, a strategic reserve They do provide a capable force that could be used elsewhere if necessary”
In the near future, at least one more major unit is headed to Kuwait
The New York Guard’s 27th Brigade Combat Team, which had been called to deploy to Afghanistan, will deploy to Kuwait instead
Commanders in Afghanistan determined they did not need the brigade there because of the ongoing drawdown of troops
About 1,800 soldiers from New York and about 300 soldiers from South Carolina will deploy, New York Guard officials said The soldiers are scheduled to mobilize later this month and train at Camp Shelby, Miss, before deploying to Kuwait
While deployed, the soldiers will perform a security force mission
Minnesota's Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Program to be recognized on State Fair Military Appreciation Day
Posted: 2016-08-26 03:01 PM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 26, 2016
ST. PAUL, Minn.-
The sixth annual Military Appreciation Day at the Minnesota State Fair presented by USAA on Tuesday, August 30, will recognize Minnesota's Beyond the Yellow Ribbon program and provide an educational opportunity for all fairgoers to learn about Minnesota's military community.
"Veterans, active duty service members, and military families deserve our immense gratitude for their sacrifice and commitment," said Governor Mark Dayton. "Since 2008, over 290 cities, counties, businesses and non-profits have joined Minnesota's "Beyond the Yellow Ribbon" program, and are now providing community support and employment assistance to veterans and military families. I thank these organizations for their leadership, and encourage all Minnesotans to thank and support our military heroes."
A 10:00 a.m. program at the Minnesota State Fair's Leinie Lodge Bandshell will celebrate Minnesota's Beyond the Yellow Ribbon program. The program will conclude at 10:25 a.m. with a historic flyover of World War II-era P6 and B25 aircraft.
Willmar-based National Guardsmen to return home Saturday
Posted: 2016-08-25 03:26 PM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 25, 2016
ST. PAUL, Minn.-
More than 150 Soldiers from the Minnesota Army National Guard's 682nd Engineer Battalion will return to Willmar Saturday following a mobilization in support of Operation Spartan Shield.
"The Soldiers of Task Force Wild excelled in their mission, and were recognized across the theater for their hard work and dedication," said Lt. Col. Keith Ferdon, battalion commander. "I couldn't be prouder of how our Soldiers represented the State of Minnesota."
The mission of the Task Force was to provide horizontal and vertical engineer construction in support of coalition forces in the region. The Soldiers oversaw the planning and execution of 285 construction projects with an approximate total value of 20.2 million dollars in seven countries: Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates.
Minnesota Identification Card will no longer grant access to Department of Defense installations
Posted: 2016-08-19 01:53 PM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 19, 2016
ST. PAUL, Minn.-
With the implementation of the "REAL ID Act" going into effect at Department of Defense installations nationwide, access will no longer be granted to Minnesotans carrying standard state-issued identification cards. Beginning this week, Minnesota residents will be required to have an approved escort or use alternative forms of identification to access the following installations:
- 133rd Airlift Wing, St. Paul
- 148th Fighter Wing, Duluth
- 934th Joint Base, Minneapolis
- Military Facility at Fort Snelling
Without a 'Real ID,' access will be granted only to individuals with an approved escort (i.e. a service member with a Common Access Card), or carrying one of the approved alternative forms of acceptable ID.
General John W. Vessey, Jr. - The 10th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Posted: 2016-08-19 08:22 AM
General John W. Vessey, Jr., a former member of the Minnesota National Guard's 34th Red Bull Infantry Division and the 10th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, passed away August 18, 2016, at the age of 94.
General John W. Vessey, Jr. was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on 29 June 1922. He enlisted in the Minnesota National Guard in May 1939 while still in high school, becoming a member of Headquarters, 59th Field Artillery Brigade, 34th Infantry Division. He was only 16 and fibbed about his age to join. With other members of his unit he was called to active duty in February 1941. When war came, the 34th became the first American division sent to Europe, where it initially fought in North Africa and then in Italy. A natural leader, Vessey rose quickly in the enlisted ranks until 6 May 1944 when, pinned down on the Anzio Beachhead amidst high casualties, the 21-year old battery first sergeant was given a battlefield commission and sent forward to direct artillery fire.
Vessey decided to stay in the Army after war. During his first 30 years of military service, he spent most of his time in combat divisions. In addition to his World War II assignment with the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division in North Africa and Italy, Vessey served with the 4th Infantry Division and 3rd Armored Division in Germany, the 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam and was commanding general of the 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized) at Fort Carson, Colorado.
He attended the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, the Armed Forces Staff College, and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. He also graduated from the University of Maryland. His love of flying prompted him to earn his wings, which he always wore proudly. When he graduated from the Army Helicopter School in 1970, he was 15 years older than the next oldest student.