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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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Camp Ripley strikes first before wildfire season

Posted: 2017-03-24  10:19 AM
Controlled burn CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - Every spring Camp Ripley begins its annual controlled burn program to help reduce the risk of wildfire during training.

"Usually the burns are completed every spring before the summer annual training season begins," said Tim Notch, training area coordinator on Camp Ripley. "However, the warmer weather conditions provide a nice opportunity for preventative burns earlier this season."

As in years past Camp Ripley will conduct controlled burns on approximately 13,000 acres of the 53,000-acre military reservation. The burns are done in coordination with the staffs of the Camp Ripley Department of Public Works and the Camp Ripley Environmental Department along with support from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.



Minnesota Guardsman earns recognition through Leads 2 Enlistment program

Posted: 2017-03-23  09:46 AM
Pfc Trevor Nelson DULUTH, Minn. - Pfc. Trevor Nelson received the Minnesota Distinguished Recruiting Ribbon and a Minnesota Recruiting and Retention Battalion medallion for excellence from Command Sgt. Maj. Curtis Serbus, March 18, 2017, at the Duluth Armory. Nelson earned these awards as part of the online referral system, Leads 2 Enlistment for referring four friends who have joined the Minnesota National Guard.

"I talked to some buddies in my school about the Guard. They liked the benefits, so I put their info in the app and let my recruiter take over." said Nelson. "I thought it would be fun to serve with friends and help them figure out their path in life."

Nelson is currently a senior at Cloquet Senior High School and assigned to the Recruit Sustainment Program in Duluth. He attended basic training at Fort Benning in the summer of 2016 with follow-on training in the summer of 2017 to become an infantryman.



Litchfield and Local Veteran Honor Gen. John Vessey at Armory Open House

Posted: 2017-03-10  08:50 AM
Vessey Bust 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.



Camp Ripley welcomes new command sergeant major

Posted: 2017-03-08  03:29 PM
CSM Erickson 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.



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