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Minnesota National Guard
Minn. National Guard launches its $3.9 million drone facility

Minnesota National Guard By Pat Pheifer
The (Minneapolis, Minn) Star Tribune
Published: May 18, 2013

, Minn -- The Shadow, an unmanned aerial vehicle commonly known as a drone, roars to life on the video screen like a powerful snowmobile before it's launched into the skies on a catapult

Unfortunately, weather conditions prevented the real thing from taking flight Friday morning as the Minnesota National Guard officially launched its new $39 million Unmanned Aircraft Operations Facility

The Guard has flown UAVs since 2004 and has seven at Camp Ripley: three Shadows, with 14-foot wing spans, and four smaller Ravens, with 5-foot wing spans that can be carried in a backpack, quickly assembled and launched by hand

The reconnaissance drones do not carry weapons, only sophisticated cameras that help troops see what's over the next hill, around the next corner or up ahead in the road The videos and photos they transmit can pinpoint enemy troops or identify a house where they're holed up

Staff Sgt Anna Zoller, who has flown UAVs since '04, said she's seen how the drones can save lives during her tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan

"We're just flying up and down the roads right now on a simulated mission," Sgt Charles Freese said as he sat in front of video screens, guiding the craft's camera with a joystick as it transmitted images of an Iraqi city taken from 3,000 feet "We're looking for anything that looks suspect We're the forward eyes for the commander"

The new facility is capable of storing, maintaining and launching the UAVs, as well as training operators to use them Guard members from other states also can train at the facility, said unit commander Capt Eric Lewanski

The National Guard's drones have been to Iraq and Afghanistan and back In Minnesota, they are only allowed to fly at Camp Ripley, restricted airspace that covers 53,000 acres on the ground and 26,999 feet into the air The military is prohibited from using unmanned aircraft to conduct surveillance on citizens under the federal Posse Comitatus Act of 1878

Although domestic drones can't be flown in the United States without approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, the FAA has said that by 2015, drones will have access to airspace now reserved for pilots And there is growing public concern about that, both from the standpoint of safety and surveillance

Sen Sean Nienow, R-Cambridge, introduced a bill in February to prohibit state law enforcement agencies from using drones for routine surveillance or to gather evidence against citizens The bill, which was modeled after similar legislation introduced in Indiana, stalled before it got to committee

Mark Dunaski, assistant commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) and a pilot himself, said he believes that ultimately the military use of drones will be a "minority application"

For the agencies under the umbrella of the DPS, he said, drones could be used for detecting fires, monitoring river levels, assessing storm damage, surveying pipeline, taking aerial photos of traffic accidents or even law enforcement situations such as a hostage situation

"We live in a society now where technology is coming so fast and furious, and government tends to move very slowly," Dunaski said "I think it behooves us to have these conversations ahead of time"
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Month of the Military Child recognizes contributions of military kids

Posted: 2018-04-07  01:54 PM
Minnesota National Guard FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 7, 2018

ST. PAUL, Minn.- The month of April is designated as the Month of the Military Child to recognize the contributions and sacrifices military children make so their family members can serve. An estimated 15,000 children in Minnesota have been affected by the deployment of a parent.

"Military children bear a lot while their family members serve," said Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard. "It is up to us to support these resilient kids and help to lessen their burden."

An event to honor military kids in Minnesota will take place April 13, 2018, at the Mall of America rotunda from 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Activities will include appearances by the Teddy Bear Band and meet and greets with Nickelodeon characters.

Forging a path to career success

Posted: 2018-03-16  08:45 AM
Col. Angela Steward-Randle ST. PAUL, Minn. - Col. Angela Steward-Randle grew up in a military family - her father served in the Army on active duty - but it was a chance encounter with a friend at college that led her to want to make the military a career.

"My story is no different than many others," Steward-Randle, the Director of Human Resources, Manpower and Personnel for the Minnesota National Guard said. "I was in college and looking for financial resources to help pay for it."

Her college friend suggested they attend a summer training with the Reserve Officer Training Corps that had no obligation and could earn them some money. The friend never ended up going, but Steward-Randle did. After earning recognition as the top honor graduate and receiving an offer of a scholarship, she was hooked.

Minnesota Guardsman Receives Award for Combating Drugs in his Community

Posted: 2018-03-09  03:13 PM
Counterdrug WOODBURY, Minn. - Staff Sgt. Benjamin Kroll, an analyst with the Minnesota National Guard's Counterdrug Task Force who is assigned to work with the Hennepin County Sherriff's Office was recognized for his achievements as the Analyst of the Year during the 2018 Minnesota Association of Crime and Intelligence Analysts Training Symposium in Woodbury, Minnesota, March 7, 2018.

Through a partnership with Minnesota law enforcement agencies throughout the state, the Minnesota National Guard Counterdrug Task Force (MNCDTF) supports the anti-drug initiatives to counter all primary drug threats and vulnerabilities through the effective application of available assets, said Maj. Jon Dotterer, Counterdrug Coordinator for the State of Minnesota. The goal for the program is to support federal, state, tribal, and local agencies in the detection, disruption, interdiction, and curtailment of illicit drugs.

Kroll is one of sixteen service members on the Counterdrug Task Force that provides this force-multiplying service to our communities against illicit drug-use. With the information that law enforcement provide through their patrols and daily operations, Kroll and his colleagues across the state assist by putting together a figurative picture with all of the gathered information which aids in identifying how to move forward with legal action to deter or prevent the sale or use of illegal narcotic drugs.

Women Opened Doors in Minnesota National Guard

Posted: 2018-03-08  09:05 AM
Minnesota National Guard ST. PAUL, Minn. - "The battlefront is no place for women to be," said Command Sgt. Maj. Earl Kurtzweg, 125th Field Artillery, in an article published in 1976. "There are certain jobs girls say they can do, but they just can't do ... the battlefront is no place for women to be. Other countries in the world use women in combat, but the U.S. has not come around to that way of thinking." Kathy Berg, a New Ulm reporter summarized at the time. "So women in the New Ulm unit take care of personnel files and pay records and leave the fighting to the men."

The Minnesota National Guard has "come around to that way of thinking" since those early days of gender integration. In the last 44 years women have made momentous strides toward inclusion and acceptance. Their accomplishments are testimony to their fortitude and the progressive development of the Minnesota National Guard.

When an accomplished female Soldier is credited with breaking barriers she will often pass that honor to the women that preceded her. Brig. Gen. Johanna Clyborne is such a leader. She acknowledges that she is one of the first females in the Minnesota National Guard who has held key leadership roles, however she sees it differently. "I feel responsible for all women in uniform," said Clyborne. "Women before me opened the door, now I've cleared the room. It's up to the women behind me to hold the room."

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