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Minnesota National Guard
MN National Guard chief on continuing work in Afghanistan

Minnesota National Guard In his State of the Union address, President Obama reaffirmed his commitment to formally end the war in Afghanistan by the end of this year

More than 200 members of the Minnesota National Guard are still deployed in Afghanistan Last week, five of them were wounded in a Taliban attack on their base

MPR News' Cathy Wurzer spoke with Major General Richard Nash, who's Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard, about the future of the Minnesota National Guard in Afghanistan -- and beyond

Below is a transcript of their conversation, edited for clarity and length

WURZER: About the five Minnesota National Guard soldiers injured in Afghanistan last week, I know one was sent to Germany for treatment, the others are in Afghanistan Can you update us on their condition?

NASH: Sure, I'd be happy to, Cathy I think you understand, and your listeners, I can't provide specific medical details due to HIPAA and privacy act requirements But I can confirm and update you that there are two soldiers that were transported back to Washington DC to Walter Reed [National Military Medical Center] for further medical care And three soldiers received care in Afghanistan and are expected to return to duty with their military unit We did have a senior leadership visit with soldiers at Walter Reed and they're well on their path to recovery, though, Cathy So I appreciate your asking

WURZER: How does an incident like this suicide bombing and the injuries to their comrades affect the entire state guard?

NASH: Well certainly we have not had casualties or injuries, serious injuries, like this for quite some time So it does, I think, send the message to all Minnesotans and across the nation that it's still very dangerous in Afghanistan, as the president stated last night that we were drawing down our forces this year and complete our combat operations at the end of December But we still are doing operations, obviously dangerous operations in Afghanistan Our soldiers are well-trained and well-led and this is an unusual situation -- an attack on an actual base So we still believe that we'll be able to accomplish our mission

WURZER: What specific work is the Guard doing in Afghanistan these days?

NASH: Soldiers like this from the 849th engineer Mobility Augmentation Company are really working on roads, in terms of clearing them of IEDs [improvised explosive devices] and providing the ability to have other organizations use that to conduct their mission So they do road clearing of IEDs and breaching of obstacles if needed So that's really the specific mission that this unit was undertaking

WURZER: You mentioned the president's speech He wants to keep a small group of troops in Afghanistan for training the Afghan military Could the Minnesota National Guard be asked to be part of that small force for training?

NASH: I would only be speculating, Cathy, but those are certainly some of the tasks that we've been doing for the last 13 years as we conducted combat operations side-by-side with our active duty counterparts, as well as peace enforcement, peace-keeping operations in Bosnia and Kosovo as you're well aware And so, we're trained to do that We have done those, and so it's really up to our national military authorities to decide if those are the types of missions that we would continue after December, if they agree on a status-of-forces agreement

WURZER: So it could be a possibility

NASH: I would only be speculating, but certainly, we have the capabilities and the training, and have the experience in doing that

WURZER: Will we see any more Minnesota National Guard deployments to Afghanistan before the year is out?

NASH: We will have continued deployments in 2014 We will have some that will be replacement for operations going on in Kuwait But, there's always pending missions within a certain notification time that we will have to respond to, but we do not anticipate any large deployments as you mentioned, you know, 280 plus or minus that we currently have in Afghanistan I would expect we'll be at a 300 mobilization number for at least this year, and we still have other commitments around the globe as you know that we will be tasked, I'm sure, to assist with active duty counterparts

Transcription by MPR News reporter Liala Helal
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Minnesota National Guard leaders visit traveling tribute in Austin

Posted: 2018-05-22  10:16 AM
Traveling Wall AUSTIN, Minn. - A replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was on display May 16-20, in Austin and leaders of the 347th Regional Support Group took the opportunity to visit during the event's closing ceremony.

The display, dubbed the American Veterans Traveling Tribute, was hosted by Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Austin and featured a near-replica of the memorial in Washington, D.C.

"It was an honor to be part of this humbling and moving tribute to our Vietnam veterans," said Col. Stephen Schemenauer. "The traveling Vietnam Wall is a powerful display, and this event provided an opportunity to meet, and thank, service members from WWII to present-day conflicts. Regardless of their branch of service, or the era or conflict in which they served, we all share a common bond."

Minnesota Aviators lead multi-state National Guard partnership for NTC rotation

Posted: 2018-05-21  03:51 PM
2-147 NTC FORT IRWIN, Calif. - The Minnesota National Guard's 2nd Battalion, 147th Assault Helicopter Battalion is working together with aviation units from four different states to provide support to the Tennessee-based 278th Armored Calvary Regiment during a rotation at National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California.

Making up Task Force Ragnar is Utah-based B Company, 1st Battalion, 211th Assault Reconnaissance Battalion; Nevada-based B Company, 1-189th General Support Aviation Battalion; Michigan-based C Company, 3-238th GSAB; and Minnesota-based A, D, E and Headquarters Companies, 2-147th AHB and F Company, 1-189th GSAB.

"Early coordination with the units across four states combined with exceptional unit leadership and motivated Soldiers helped us to quickly build the task force when we closed on Fort Irwin," said Lt. Col. Kevin O'Brien, Task Force Commander. "I was thoroughly impressed with the professionalism and teamwork of task force Soldiers. This was an outstanding training opportunity that challenged every Soldier to grow as individuals and units daily."

Deployed Minnesota Guardsman honors grandfather, Hmong heritage

Posted: 2018-05-17  09:57 AM
Brandon Xiong CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait - "My heritage is Hmong," said 21 year-old Minnesota National Guard Spec. Brandon Xiong from his desk at Camp Buehring, Kuwait. "A low-key culture that originated from southern Asia. Hmong is not a place, but it is a people."

Xiong, the eldest grandson of the late Col. Song Leng Xiong, is deployed in Kuwait as an information technician for Area Support Group - Kuwait.

"We were not nomadic, but have been in many different conflicts," said Xiong. "Many places I go, I am questioned about my nationality and when answered, end up being even more confused. There is a movie called, "Gran Torino", where Clint Eastwood is introduced to the Hmong culture and I think it portrays the Hmong people not so terribly."

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.

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