| 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
Norwegian youth recognized for response to vehicle accident
Posted: 2017-02-22 09:59 AM
CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - Norwegian youths Stian Dahl and Haavard Engen received the Camp Ripley Garrison Commander's coin from Col. Scott St Sauver February 19, 2017, in recognition for reacting to a vehicle accident they witnessed earlier that week.
As part of the U.S.-Norway Reciprocal Troop Exchange, Norwegian youths ages 19-20 are matched up with a host family in order to spend an evening experiencing American culture. In most situations the "Buddy Weekend" as it's called allows the youths to go shopping, attend events and have home-cook meals along with their host family.
"We are able to match up youth members with families all over the state," said Staff Sgt. Tim Krouth, Buddy Weekend organizer. "Lots of the families have hosted one or two of our Norwegian friends for several years in a row now, it a great way to relax and see some of Minnesota."
To the top of the mountain and back, NOREX 44 members embrace the Norwegian winter
Posted: 2017-02-21 01:25 PM
HALTDALEN, Norway - After two days at a base camp near Haltdalen, Norway, Minnesota National Guardsmen participating in the 44th Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange were ready for the most challenging aspect of their four-day field training exercise - a ski march up the mountain.
It was Day three of the FTX, meaning members of the 44th Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange had slowly adjusted to surviving and thriving while living in a winter environment and also honed their skills on cross country skills well enough to begin a climb that would take nearly three hours.
"Our goal was to get you to know how to use the winter, see how the Norwegians use the winter, and how we survive the winter so we can conduct combat," said Vidar Aune, one of several members of Home Guard 12 guiding the Minnesota National Guard Soldiers and Airmen during their training here. "By getting the experience living outside in the snow, you manage to survive it and handle it quite well."
Norwegian youth train with Minnesota National Guard
Posted: 2017-02-16 10:52 AM
CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. -Youth of the Norwegian Home Guard experienced some of Minnesota culture along with focused military style training during the first week of NOREX 2017.
The U.S.--Norway reciprocal Troop Exchange, which began Feb. 9, 2017, annually swaps approximately 100 Soldiers and Airmen from the Minnesota National Guard and a like number of Norwegian Home Guard soldiers as well as youths to experience each other's training, military lifestyle and most importantly, culture.
"It's rewarding interacting with more young people eager to learn about a new lifestyle and culture," said Capt. Brett Farniok, Youth Platoon Officer-in-Charge.
Warmly welcomed, U.S. contingent arrives in Norway for NOREX 44
Posted: 2017-02-12 01:38 PM
CAMP VAERNES, Norway - Following a muster at the 133rd Airlift Wing and an eight-hour overnight flight across the Atlantic Ocean, nearly 100 Soldiers and Airmen with the Minnesota National Guard finally arrived in Norway to conduct the 44th Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange on Feb. 9, 2017.
While the U.S.-based Soldiers were warmly greeted by members of the Norwegian Home Guard at Camp Vaernes, a similarly-sized group of Norwegian Home Guard members were received at Camp Ripley Training Center. The arrival of military members from both countries to their host nations formally began the annual exchange, which provides a unique opportunity for individuals to become fully-immersed in foreign military and social culture.
"Though I didn't know what to expect before getting here, they have been very welcoming," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Taylor Hanson, a member of the 148th Fighter Wing. "They are making sure we had everything."