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During the deployment, the BCT had three main objectives The first objective was managing five bases in Kuwait, ensuring everything ran smoothly and providing life support for US forces and their allies
Second, the brigade was responsible for force protection, ensuring that Soldiers had the ability to conduct operations safely
Their third objective was providing convoy security for the end of Operation New Dawn, the largest logistical drawdown since World War II The last convoy left Iraq on December 18, 2011
"The 18th of December was a big day for the brigade because the looks on the faces, when that last convoy crossed and we all made it out safely and we got all those Soldiers home," said Col Eric Kerska, brigade commander "All 40,000 Soldiers, home by Christmas, that was a big deal for the guys"
Some of the brigade's accomplishments include:
Traveled 28 million miles conducting convoy escort and security, while escorting approximately 359,000 personnel, 27,000 trucks and supplying 554 million gallons of fuel to US forces in Iraq
Completed 25 Department of Public Works projects on Camp Arifjan and reduced excess resources that helped identify a savings of $10 million in annual contracts
Conducted more than 335 Area Reaction Force missions and 11,925 Quick Reaction Force missions, traveling approximately 98,985 miles in Kuwait
"The folks from Minnesota really need to be proud of what their Soldiers accomplished," said Kerska "It was an extremely complicated mission, lots of moving pieces, lots of danger"
The next step for the Soldiers is reintegrating with their families
Now that the Soldiers have all returned home, they will all participate in Beyond the Yellow Ribbon's Initial Reintegration Training The training is three parts and occurs at 30, 60 and 90 day intervals after the Soldier's return Reintegration training connects Service members and their family with providers and classes that can assist them in overcoming the challenges of reintegration
Posted: 2017-03-10 08:50 AM LITCHFIELD, Minn. -Bruce Cottington, a Navy veteran of WWII and Korea, donated a bronze bust of Gen. John W. Vessey, Jr. to the Litchfield National Guard unit during the armory's public open house event March 4. Cottington, a Litchfield resident, commands the Minnesota Chapter of the Veterans of Underage Military Service. VUMS members enlisted in the military prior to the minimum age requirement in order to serve their country during WWII. Cottington received the bust from Vessey, a fellow VUMS member. Both enlisted in the military at the age of 16.
The highlight of the 334th Brigade Engineer Battalion open house was the unveiling of the sculpture. The unit was very supportive when Cottington proposed donating the sculpture. The Litchfield community has always been very supportive of the National Guard over the years, so the open house was a chance to say 'thanks' to their neighbors. "This was a great opportunity to honor Bruce and to honor Gen. Vessey," said B Co., 334th Brigade Engineer Battalion Commander, Capt. Seth Goreham. Bravo Company also has a tight relationship with the local American Legion and VFW. Many Litchfield citizens are former members of Bravo Company, or the unit's predecessors A Co, 682nd Engineer Battalion, and the 849th Mobility Augmentation Company.
Posted: 2017-03-08 03:29 PM CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - The garrison command team of Camp Ripley, family, friends and colleagues from the Minnesota National Guard attended a Change of Responsibility ceremony between Command Sgt. Maj. Mike Worden and Command Sgt. Maj. Matt Erickson, March 5, 2017, at Camp Ripley.
The ceremony was an official "passing of the sword" from one senior noncommissioned officer to the next and assumption of the duties and responsibilities that go along with the position of Garrison Command Sergeant Major.
As with many military ceremonies those in attendance welcomed Erickson as a new member of the team and bid farewell, recognized and thanked Worden for his service.
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."
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."