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Minnesota National Guard
Under overcast skies, a bright day for returning Minnesota Soldiers and families

BLOOMINGTON, Minn – More than 200 Minnesota National Guard Soldiers from the Bloomington-based 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division returned home throughout the state Sunday, Apr 15, after a year-long deployment to Kuwait in support of Operation New Dawn The Soldiers were from Bravo and Charlie Companies of the 1st Squadron, 94th Cavalry


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Even the dismal weather couldn’t dampen the bright day for Minnesota Soldiers and their families  Despite their Soldiers arriving nearly an hour earlier than expected, families—holding signs and cheering enthusiastically—lined the sidewalk in front of the Bloomington Armory and welcomed Soldiers as they exited buses 

1st Lt Patrick Lo, platoon leader for the 1-94 CAV from Edina, Minn, said the welcome from family members was remarkable

“From the airport, we were escorted by the Patriot Guard who led us all the way to the Armory,” said Lo  “And to have the families waiting for us here was awesome”

This deployment marks that largest for the “Red Bulls” since World War II The mission accomplished by 1-94 CAV during their deployment was a historic feat, which was vital to the withdrawal of US Soldiers and equipment from Iraq, the largest logistical drawdown in history

During their deployment, the 1-94 CAV performed convoy escort missions and traveled more than one million miles

“We are very proud of the brigade’s accomplishments in supporting the final phase of the Iraq War during Operation New Dawn,” said Army Lt Col Rick T Schute, officer in charge for the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Red Bull Infantry Division

“To see that the war is over is an amazing thing to be a part of,” said Maj Mark Lappegaard, 1-94 CAV executive officer “Having everybody come back safe and seeing that all these Soldiers get to go back home is a great thing”

April 15, 2012
Photos and story by
Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs




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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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