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Minnesota National Guard
The Mark of an Infantryman

FORWARD OPERATING BASE GERBER, Kuwait-Those who chose to enter the ranks of the citizen-soldier infantry are a breed a part from the rest, often times volunteering to serve in the most dangerous and demanding ways for the needs of the US Army It's these soldiers' military occupational specialty that has become increasingly important to the US in a world where small-scale acts of terrorism and unconventional warfare are the order of today's battlefield, but what sets an infantryman apart from his peers?

Earning the coveted Expert Infantryman Badge not only designates an infantryman elite in his career field, but it is considered to be "the mark of an infantryman'



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Soldiers with 2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, currently deployed to Kuwait, hosted an EIB validation for the first time with the Army's new revised testing standards for the EIB
Maj Jeffery Blowers, the battalion's Operations Officer-In-Charge, oversaw all plans for the validation as he watched his soldiers strive for what is considered a must-have accouterment for any infantryman

"It means a lot to be able to offer this for soldiers to go through,"said Blowers "It hones a great skill level one task that all infantrymen should be experts at and to allow soldiers to earn the coveted Expert Infantryman's badge, which is only worn by less than 10 percent of all infantrymen in the Army today and is something they can be proud of-they are true expert infantryman"

In 1993, while stationed at Fort Lewis, a young private Blowers proved the mastery of his skills and earned his EIB

Before any deployment, validating on the EIB is rarely an option for most National Guard infantry soldiers because of how time consuming and labor intensive the training and validation for the EIB is

1st Sgt Paul Oakes, grader and Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division First Sergeant, agreed

Depending on where the unit is in their mission training cycle for deployments it typically can't be fit it in, said Oakes, we just have so much to do and minimal time to do it in

EIB committee members at Fort Benning, Ga, took into account the constant combat since Sept 11 and attempted to create a test that would fit between repeated deployments and added updated combat-related situations

The outcome is a 12-day process and requires less time, personnel, and resources

Following the new test standards, soldiers had seven days to train on required tasks and five days of testing

On the first day of validation, EIB candidates took an Army Physical Fitness Test and had to score 75 points or higher in each event in order to move on to the next day, along with passing a day and night land navigation course separate from the lanes

Over the next three days, soldiers ran through three lanes: urban, patrol and traffic control point Each lane had 10 to 12 tasks including moving under direct fire, engaging an enemy target with a grenade, providing first aid to a simulated casualty, and one decision task which had the soldier applying critical thinking while performing their mission

Oakes noted that there is an added level of stress since soldiers had to take on multiple tasks throughout the lanes as opposed to the focusing on one at a time at individual stations like in the previous test

This, he said, affects not only the candidates, but the test graders as well

"Before, graders only validated one task," Oakes explained "Now that one grader has to know 10 to 12 different tasks and master them"

If a soldier is deemed a "no-go" on a task, he does not have the option to retest like the old standards allowed

On the final day of testing, the soldiers who are left set off to complete a 12-mile foot march in less than three hours

For soldiers, such as Oakes, who earned his EIB in 1991 with others in the 1st Ranger Battalion based out of Savannah, Ga, there's something that makes earning an EIB even more highly regarded being a "True Blue" EIB holder

"True Blue" means a Soldier completed every task without a "no-go," thus every "go" box on his score sheet has a blue mark all the way down the page

Staff Sgt Robert Ehrreich, an infantryman with A Co, 1st Combined Arms Bn, 194th Armor, was the first of 53 soldiers to cross the finish in around two hours, 12 minutes

"It means everything-it means that now I'm an Infantryman, but not only am I an Infantryman, I'm one of the best infantrymen out there," said Ehrreich

Even after accomplishing so much throughout testing, it was his service in the Minnesota National Guard he was most proud of

"I plan on staying in the military for quite some time as long as I can," said the infantryman from Roseville, Minn "I'll be in the Minnesota National Guard leading troops and taking on anything that I can-now I just have to find something new to challenge myself"

Out of 294 soldiers, 53 earned their EIBs.

Story and photos by Cpl Trisha Betz
1/34th BCT Public Affairs
Article source
Images at DVIDS



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347th RSG units test unique capabilities during Combined Support Training Exercise

Posted: 2017-08-16  03:35 PM
347 RSG FORT MCCOY, Wisconsin - The 347th Regional Support Group commander and command sergeant major traveled to Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, Aug. 15, 2017, to recognize several Soldiers training there.

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The leadership duo of Col. Lowell Kruse and Command Sgt. Maj. Marcus Erickson began their day with a stop at the 147th FMSD's training area, where they watched Soldiers participate in the Diamond Saber exercise. Throughout the event, the 147th FMSD - a 25-Soldier operation preparing for deployment - is exercising its dispersing, military pay and contracting functions in an interactive environment with actual customers to serve and transactions to process.



500 Minnesota soldiers notified for 2018 deployment

Posted: 2017-08-14  03:54 PM
Minnesota National Guard FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 13, 2017

ROSEMOUNT, Minn.- More than 500 Soldiers from the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division headquarters have been notified of a possible deployment to Southwest Asia beginning in the fall of 2018.

"The Red Bulls maintain a high level of readiness, and over the next 12 months, our soldiers will train for this mission while also preparing their families and civilian employers here at home," said Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, 34th Infantry Division commanding general. "The official notification is an important step in the process of building readiness for an overseas deployment."

The planned deployment is expected to last up to one year. The notified units are based in Rosemount, Inver Grove Heights, and Faribault; however, the soldiers hail from 10 different states and the District of Columbia.



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Posted: 2017-08-10  08:14 AM
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It began with a Command Post Exercise on Aug. 8, 2017, but it couldn't begin until the tenants of "Tactical Assembly Area Victory" established meal service, sleeping arrangements, shower and laundry accommodations and, of course, the tactical command post.

"We do the exercise to make sure our equipment works, and once that is established we as a staff figure out how to sync together," said Sgt. Maj. Marc Dempsey, logistics operations sergeant major for the 347th RSG. "The exercise is for making sure we as a staff are working together as one team, with everyone knowing their role, for when we go into the main event."



Military kids participate in Minnesota National Guard Youth Camp

Posted: 2017-08-07  02:08 PM
Youth Camp CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - Summer camp as a kid and young teen is usually filled with memories of campfires, swimming in the lake and BBQs. Camp Ripley Training Center hosted the Minnesota National Guard Youth Camp (MNGYC) for more than 200 military kids this year. The experience for the military kids who attend the camp relies heavily on donations and nearly 150 volunteers from around the state that come and spend the week with them.

Lindsay Koolmo is a volunteer and the executive director for the MNGYC. She is a military spouse, a volunteer firefighter and a mutations maintenance Tech Sergeant from the 148th Fighter Wing. She has taken upon herself for years to take time off her job and spend hundreds of hours throughout the year and more than two weeks at Camp Ripley to lead the camp.

Her affiliation with the MNGYC started early, in 1992 she was a camper, became a junior counselor, then was a junior counselor and then became an adult counselor.



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