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Minnesota National Guard
Funding rift pits active-duty military against Guard, Reserve (video)

Minnesota National Guard Military's postwar belt-tightening will be felt at the local level, National Guard warns

National Guard armories could be shuttered and Minnesota towns hit by tornadoes or floods couldn't count on a Guard soldier to stand watch There may be fewer National Guard helicopters to help during forest fires

A widening -- and unusually polarized -- rift over funding is pitting the country's active-duty military against its Guard and Reserve comrades in arms

After more than a decade of war in which the Guard and Reserves battled side by side with their active-duty colleagues, the fight over funding in a postwar environment is quickly getting ugly It's over who will take more of a hit from cuts in troop size and funding and who provides more bang for the buck

It was made more intense recently when the Army's top general appeared to dismiss the role of the country's Guard units, saying that Guard soldiers "only train 39 days a year" and that they were not "interchangeable" with the active Army, which he said maintains a higher level of readiness

The comments from Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno drew the ire of Congress, including Rep Tim Walz, D-Minn, a retired command sergeant major of the Minnesota Guard Walz and Rep Duncan Hunter, a former Marine who still serves in the Marine Reserve, called Odierno's comments "irresponsible"

At its heart, the argument is about who will emerge victorious in a peacetime world The active-duty Army now has about 540,000 soldiers and is scheduled to reduce its ranks to 490,00 by 2017 At the national level, the Guard's current troop levels of 350,000 could be reduced by sequestration and other cuts to 315,00 by 2017

Minnesota could lose 1,000

In Minnesota, that could mean the loss of about 1,000 positions in the National Guard's 13,000-member force Leaders of the Minnesota National Guard warn that the consequences could hit some of the most visible aspects of the Guard's domestic mission

In addition, the active-duty Army has proposed assuming all tactical aviation functions, which translates to taking control of such things as the Apache attack helicopter, which is armed with machine guns and missiles

The threats involve the National Guard's Apache units in 10 states, where the Army has suggested a plan to move the Apaches, the world's most advanced attack helicopters, and Lakota light-utility helicopters from the Guard to active-duty forces

In Florida this week, Guard leaders also raised concerns about the loss of as many as 1,000 Guard members, 10 percent of its force

The Minnesota Guard does not have attack helicopters If Guard units from other states are forced to give up theirs, though, it's likely the Minnesota Guard will be forced turn over some of its helicopters, like its Black Hawks, to compensate for the loss

"You might not see as many helicopters available to fight fires or floods," said Brigadier Gen Neal Loidolt, commander of the Guard's 34th Infantry Division "You might not see as many soldiers available to provide security at tornadoes or walk the dikes of the Red River Valley It could also mean that areas in towns in our state where you've been accustomed to seeing soldiers in units, you might not see soldiers in units in those places anymore"

Each state, the three US territories and the District of Columbia has an Army National Guard The units are sovereign organizations responding to state leadership But they can be called up, or "federalized," to active duty during wartime

In the past 10 years, they made up 28 percent of the 23 million service members who deployed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan The Minnesota Guard's 34th Infantry Division's 1st Brigade was the longest-serving brigade combat team of any unit during the Iraq war, when it was activated for 22 months and spent a total of 16 months in Iraq

"I suspect that would not have happened if it weren't a comparable or more than comparable Army brigade combat team," Loidolt said

'Big Army' vs locals

Odierno's comments last month renewed a traditional schism between "Big Army" and the Guard and Reserve that many thought had disappeared

Forty minutes into a wide-ranging question-and-answer period at the National Press Club, Odierno said the Guard would not be capable of taking on more of the active-duty Army's responsibilities because the full-time force brings a higher level of readiness, which, he said, costs more money to maintain

Shortly afterward, the president of the National Guard Association of the United States, the Guard's lobbying arm, called the remarks "disrespectful and simply not true"

Walz said in an interview Friday that Odierno has yet to respond to his letter A spokesman for the Pentagon said Odierno was traveling and unavailable for comment

In the letter, Walz, a co-chairman of the House National Guard and Reserve Components Caucus, pointed to figures that he said show that the cost to maintain one active-duty component infantry brigade combat team is about twice that of a reserve component because Guard units don't require such things as subsidized base housing, they train less often, and they are called on only when needed

"This is quantifiable," Walz said "When we're making sure the first priority is this nation's national security, but making sure it is in the most cost effective manner, you can't dispute the facts To make the comment that they are not ready sets the wrong tone"

Walz remembers a time when the Guard was regarded as nothing more than weekend warriors, left with aging equipment or sometimes no equipment at all At one point after the first Gulf War, Walz said his Guard artillery unit had to conduct drills by taping the outline of a howitzer cannon on the gym floor and using -toilet paper rolls as the powder charge

"That was a horrible way to do business, it was a horrible way to do national security and it was very wasteful," Walz said "It should not be a pick-and-choose, but when it got tight it appears the Pentagon slipped back into its ways"

Article by: MARK BRUNSWICK , Star Tribune
Updated: February 1, 2014 - 9:28 AM
Article source with video
http://www.startribune.com/politics/national/243032791.html



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Operation Future Warrior, rain or shine

Posted: 2017-05-24  01:12 PM
Operation Future Warrior More than 900 recruits from the Minnesota National Guard came to Camp Ripley Friday through Sunday for Operation Future Warrior.

Young men and women who volunteered to join the Minnesota Army National Guard got to experience a small taste of basic training and military training during the three-day event.

"The intent of Operation Future Warrior is removing the mystery of the training recruits will experience when attending Basic Combat and Advance Individualized Training," said Lt. Col. Eduardo Suarez, recruiting and retention battalion commander.



St. Paul-based Combat Aviation Brigade welcomes new senior enlisted leader

Posted: 2017-05-23  08:03 AM
Hellkamp ARDEN HILLS, Minn. - The Minnesota National Guard's 34th Combat Aviation Brigade welcomed a new senior enlisted leader during a change of responsibility ceremony, May 21, 2017, at the Arden Hills Army Training Site.

Command Sgt. Maj. Mitchell Hellkamp assumed duties as the unit's senior noncommissioned officer (NCO) from Command Sgt. Maj. Stephen Cunnien, who served in the position for the past two years and will be retiring from the military later this year.

"Command Sgt. Maj. Cunnien is one of the finest leaders that I have worked with in my career," said Col. Shawn Manke, commander of the 34th CAB. "He sets the example for all noncommissioned officers and Soldiers to emulate. He is a true professional, as a visible leader and teacher for the Soldiers of the combat aviation brigade. We're grateful for his many years of service, and we wish him well as he closes out his military career and enters the next chapter in his life."



Families recognized for sacrifices during Guard deployment

Posted: 2017-05-22  10:57 AM
Welcome Home ST. CLOUD, Minn. - Soldiers of B Co., 2-211th General Support Aviation Battalion were welcomed home May 20, 2017, at the River's Edge Convention Center in St. Cloud, Minnesota. During the ceremony, families were recognized for their sacrifices during the year-long deployment.

"I often tell Soldiers and truly believe that as hard as our jobs are at times, our families have the harder job at home," said Lt. Col. Kevin O'Brien, commander of the 2-147 Assault Helicopter Battalion. "Because Army family members have a unique burden that many of their friends and families cannot understand, they form family readiness groups, or FRGs, to share information and provide support to one another."

The company's FRG leader, Rhiannon Knutson, wife of Chief Warrant Officer 2 Tom Knutson, was in constant contact with the unit's families and went above and beyond what is normally expected of FRG leaders, said the unit's readiness non-commissioned officer, Sgt. 1st Class Mark Wood.



Camp Ripley's Training Support Unit keeps the base running

Posted: 2017-05-16  12:41 PM
Camp Ripley CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - The Camp Ripley Training Support Unit is designated to the care, upkeep and assistance to the installation and those utilizing the facility.

"The Training Support Unit's (TSU) primary focus is to support unit training requirements and ensure smooth operations here on Camp Ripley and the Arden Hills Army Training Site in the metro," said Sgt. 1st Class Terry Clabo, Training Support Unit Readiness NCO.

Camp Ripley features numerous ranges and state-of-the-art training facilities to support military, law enforcement, first responder and inter-agency partner training requirements. The installation is structured to have a full complement of automated small arms and large caliber weapon ranges as well as several specialized training facilities.



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