| 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.
Chainsaw diplomacy: MN National Guard helps restore Croatian community center
Posted: 2015-07-06 03:22 PM
Soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard are demonstrating the power of the U.S. military abroad - the power to heal.
Members of the 851st Vertical Engineer Company are in the midst of a three-week deployment, working 15-hour days to repair a community center in the small village of Račinovci in Croatia, a southeastern European country that is bordered by Hungary to the north.
Since mid-June, they have been working side by side with the Croatian army in a humanitarian mission to restore the 70-year-old building after it was heavily damaged by flooding.
Monticello Soldier's motivation and work ethic drive her service in the Minnesota National Guard
Posted: 2015-07-06 02:37 PM
RACINOVIC, Croatia - Motivation comes in variety of ways, some find it with a book, some find it at the gym and some find it with the inspirational words and actions of another.
For Spc. Alyssa Bier, her dedication and drive to be a part of the 851st Vertical Engineering Company came with the words and actions of a particular first lieutenant and the inspiration to be the first female in her family to join.
"Up until when I joined, the military members in my family were all men," said Bier.
Pierz native serves in Croatia with Minnesota National Guard
Posted: 2015-07-06 10:02 AM
RACINOVIC, Croatia - Some join the Army on a whim and for others it's a lifelong dream. For Pfc. Nathan Tomala it was an aspiration early on in his life.
"Ever since fifth grade when we had career day me and my best friend, we would always dress up as soldiers," said Tomala.
He is a part of the 851st Vertical Engineering Company out of Camp Ripley Training Center, Minn. He and 30 other members the 851st VEC have recently gone to Croatia for a Humanitarian Civic Assistance mission through the Office of Defense Cooperation.
Local rails get Guard to mission
Posted: 2015-07-02 01:09 PM
CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - Across the state of Minnesota, more than 4,500 miles of active railroad track is used to move material, equipment and passengers - an extension of a system which started on May 22, 1857.
"Burlington Northern - Santa Fe Railway has a rich history supporting our military, reaching back to the Civil War. Today BNSF still works closely with the Department of Defense to coordinate movement of large equipment by rail, including to and from Camp Ripley, near Little Falls," said Amy McBeth, a spokesperson for Burlington Northern - Santa Fe.
In addition to three classifications of railway systems, the federal government identified a system of railroads for the purpose of moving government equipment to support the defense of the United States.