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Minnesota National Guard
Our first trip to Kuwait City

CAMP VIRGINIA, Kuwait " Our first trip to Kuwait City began on a chilly morning on the Jan 15, 2012 The wind was still, which actually was a blessing The temperature was cold enough that our breath could be seen rising into the air, and wouldn't you know it, my only civilian sweater needed to be washed My mood had already been somewhat soured before the trip had even begun because of this fact However, I still looked forward with anticipation to the trip ahead; as it was a good reprieve from the daily rigor I had become quite accustomed to at Camp Virginia

There were eight of us going on this trip and our moods all seemed to reflect the same excitement None of us had ever been into the city before and we had high hopes that our experience would be worth the troubles the morning had already brought



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The ride into the city started off slowly The scenery was the same for awhile, endless desert with very few signs of life It changed rather quickly once we drove for about twenty minutes Homes and buildings began to spring up out of the dust from nowhere I was taken aback by just how absolutely beautiful the buildings were Some of them were actually made of marble The mosques had towers that would reflect the sunlight, and they were everywhere It seemed the farther we drove into the city the more extravagant they became

Once we reached Kuwait City, any memories of our base had all but disappeared We were in a thriving, gorgeous, and wealthy city There was no dust to be found here, only green palm trees and floral arrangements along the busy highways The architecture of the city was enough in itself to allow for a sightseeing tour, but our first of three destinations was the Kuwaiti Towers The Kuwaiti Towers were located along the Persian Gulf and they consisted of three separate towers One was a monument, one a restaurant, and the last was a water tower The restaurant also held a lookout platform, which was continually traversed, completing its' cycles in about 30 minutes From this area, we could see the gulf and the city as it sprawled out along the coastline

The second destination of our tour was the Kuwaiti Aquarium This was in itself a pleasant visit, but seeing the elementary children that were on a field trip reminded me of home I was somewhat of a hit with these children, as they all wanted to wave to me and smile as they walked by It really didn't seem foreign at all It was as if I was in a building back home in Saint Paul Our final destination provided the best meal I have had in almost a year We went to a buffet-style restaurant, and the food was marvelous We all sat at a round table freely talking and eating, and it almost seemed as though we could just get into our car and drive home

We felt so completely refreshed when the trip was over The displeasure of the morning and the home sickness that I had been feeling since we left Minnesota was gone As we walked back into our company's area, I was greeted with questions about the trip I think my response was surprising to everyone that heard it "If there is another trip, I am going" This trip turned out to be an incredibly enjoyable moment for us, and it almost felt like we were right back home, if only for the moment

Story by 2nd Lt Addison Pennington
1st Platoon Leader, Delta Company, 1-194 AR (CAB)
Jan 15, 2012




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Mission Complete: Bearcats Finish NATO Exercise in Lithuania's Suwalki Gap

Posted: 2017-06-23  02:56 PM
Air Assault Saber Strike PABRADE, Lithuania - At the sound of 17 U.S. Army rotary wing aircraft humming through the air, Soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard's 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry, in addition to Service members of five NATO Allied countries, load onto Black Hawk, Chinook and Apache helicopters, at Kazlu Ruda airstrip during the Saber Strike exercise, June 17, 2017. The multinational effort came together to conduct an air and ground assault in the Suwalki Gap to demonstrate the nations' capability to respond to any hostile act of a potential adversary.

"You could tell on everyone's faces that this was go time," said Sgt. Derrick Bruestle, a team leader for 2-136th CAB, also known as the Bearcats. "It wasn't just a training exercise to them anymore, it was a serious mission with real implications on the real world."

The magnitude of the exercise set in as the first bird lifted off the airstrip and started moving toward the objective in a staggered formation. Saber Strike is a U.S. Army Europe-led NATO exercise meant to exhibit a strengthened partnership of the military assets of the NATO Alliance.



Beyond NATO Commitments, MN State Partnership with Croatia Continues to Grow

Posted: 2017-06-22  10:25 AM
Saber Strike SPP PABRADE, Lithuania - Since 1996, the Minnesota National Guard and the Croatian Armed Forces have been partners in the National Guard's State Partnership Program. Beyond the bond of the NATO commitment, a mutual trust and unique bond has been forged amongst the warriors of each respective nation. From Camp Ripley to Karlovac, the soldiers have found a common cause of continuous improvement. Exercise after exercise, there has been a greater appreciation of one another's culture and customs.

You don't have to look to far to see this dynamic. When asked if he had ever worked with Minnesota National Guardsmen before, 1Lt Emanuel Hamer of the Croatian Armed Forces said, "This is my fourth time working with 2-136 "Bearcats," each time we grow closer and stronger. I feel like they are members of my unit. I'm glad I have this opportunity to learn new techniques and share some of our own with the Americans."



7 Nations, 4 Branches, 1 Mission; Saber Strike '17

Posted: 2017-06-20  02:14 PM
Saber Strike 17 PABRADE, Lithuania - As the sun begins to set on the Lithuanian countryside, the final touches are put on the camouflage netting designed to break the silhouette and conceal the position of the Tactical Action Center, or TAC, of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division on June 17, 2017. As part of the multinational exercise of Saber Strike '17, the 1/34th ABCT is providing support to the Air Assault Task Force Commander, Col. Charles Kemper.

As the first ever combined air and ground assault in the annual Saber Strike exercise, this year's exercise has set a milestone in testing the compatibility of seven nations and all military branches.

"We want to reassure all of our NATO Allies that we are in this together," said Kemper. "We're part of the team and we can demonstrate capability."



Minnesota Aviators complete successful eXportable Combat Training Capability exercise

Posted: 2017-06-20  08:30 AM
XCTC FORT HOOD, Texas - Soldiers from the Minnesota National Guard's 2-147th Assault Helicopter Battalion wrapped up support for an eXportable Combat Training Capability (XCTC) exercise at Fort Hood, Texas, recently. The unit was part of Task Force Ragnar, the exercise's aviation element, supporting the Tennessee National Guard's 278th Armored Calvary Regiment as they prepare for a rotation to the National Training Center in 2018.

"Our mission is to support a brigade element here," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 John Otremba, with the 2-147. "But I think our ultimate mission is to train for an austere environment which sets us up for success at NTC next year."

The task force conducted aviation support missions including air assault, sling load, deliberate attack, defensive positioning and key leader escorts. They also conducted aviation-specific training in personnel recovery, downed aircraft recovery, field maintenance and air traffic control operations.



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