| 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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.
Bearcats toast mission success
Posted: 2014-10-23 12:31 PM
MAHNOMEN, Minn.- Soldiers, families and friends of the 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry Regiment attended the unit's annual Bearcat Dinner, October 18, 2014.
The dinner, a tradition for the battalion, celebrated the proud lineages of the unit, as well as highlighted the accomplishments they have made over the past year.
"We have devoted a great deal of effort to pay attention to our unit readiness," said Sgt. 1st Class Shane Haugen, admin NCO for the battalion.
114th Transportation Company Welcome Home Ceremony
Posted: 2014-10-22 03:53 PM
CHISHOLM, Minn.- The Minnesota National Guard's Chisholm-based 114th Transportation Company is scheduled to hold their 30-day reintegration event and welcome home ceremony Saturday at Chisholm High School after a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan.
"A priority of the Minnesota National Guard is to improve the wellness and resiliency of service members and their family members," said Army Capt. Ryan R. Koester, 114th Transportation Company Commander.
Minnesota Military Radio talks Veterans Voices, sequestration
Posted: 2014-10-22 09:00 AM
SAINT PAUL, Minn. - The Minnesota Humanities Center honored 30 Minnesota Veterans who have gone above and beyond the call of duty with the 2014 Veterans' Voices awards, September 11, 2014. Two of these veterans - Dennis Schulstad, an Air Force veteran and retired brigadier general, and Capt. Amber Manke, a current member of the Minnesota Army National Guard - recently spoke about their community involvement on Minnesota Military Radio.
The Minnesota Humanity Center's veterans voices program draws on the power of humanities to call attention to the stories and contributions of veterans. It empowers Minnesota veterans to speak in their own voices through plays, art, discussion groups and the veterans voices award.
Also this week on Minnesota Military Radio, Col. (Ret.) Don Kerr warned listeners of the coming effects on the Minnesota National Guard due to congressional gridlock. Kerr, the president of the Vessey Chapter of the Association of the United States Army, reminded listeners that the coming automatic budget cut, known as sequestration, has returned and will mean a loss of about 80,000 Soldiers across the Army nationwide.
1/34th Brigade Special Troop Battalion Reorganizes; The Army of 2020
Posted: 2014-10-18 10:31 AM
CAMP RIPLEY, Minn.- The 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division (1/34th ABCT) completed its official reorganization of the 1/34th Brigade Special Troops Battalion (1/34th BSTB) to the 334th Brigade Engineer Battalion (334th BEB), Oct. 18, 2014.
"This unit reorganization lays the groundwork for meeting the Army's 2020 vision in which brigades are self-contained combined arms formations," said Col. Robert Intress, 1/34th ABCT Commander.
133rd Airlift Wing Welcomes home Security Forces Squadron members from deployment
Posted: 2014-10-16 09:34 AM
ST. PAUL, Minn.- Thirteen airmen from the Minnesota National Guard's 133rd Airlift Wing Security Forces Squadron are scheduled to return Friday to Minnesota following a four-month deployment to Southwest Asia.
"During this deployment, the 133rd airmen melded with their active duty counterparts and utilized their citizen-airmen experiences and training to help fight the war on terrorism in an overseas environment," said Col. Terrance Sieben, the security forces squadron commander.
MPD Sgt. Blackwell: 'We're human, we have hearts, we care about people'
Posted: 2014-10-15 08:42 AM
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.(KMSP)- Talking with Minneapolis police Sgt. Katie Blackwell, it's clear she truly cares about her job and the people who live and work in the first precinct.When a man was sexually assaulting women in Ramp C downtown last week Sgt. Blackwell took it personally, making his arrest a top priority. The suspect was in custody within 48 hours.
"We just won't tolerate predators walking through our city and our communities, so yeah, I took it pretty personally," Sgt. Blackwell said.
To understand why she cares so much, one has to know where she's coming from, and it's quite a story. She grew up one of 10 kids in northeast Minneapolis, something Sgt. Blackwell says helps her connect with her community.