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History
Minnesota National Guard
Looking to the Future Evokes a Torrent of Memories

Minnesota National Guard A letter to Army Magazine
by Gen John W Vessey


Thanks for the June issue It had a number of important articles for those interested in the future of America's Army

As always, Gen Frederick J Kroesen, US Army retired, had important thoughts for policymakers and voting citizens to consider ("More Than a Fair Share of Sacrifice") Special thanks to Lt Gen Daniel P Bolger, US Army retired, for "The Day Before D-Day" As one of those Fifth Army soldiers who marched through Rome that day, however, I'd say it was not the greatest day of the war That came almost a year later when the war ended, but it was certainly the second-best day of the war

Rome was an "open city," not bombed or shelled by either side, so the beauty of the city was awe-inspiring Once the Roman citizens realized what was happening, the streets were lined with cheering men, women and children At one point when the column slowed to a stop, a pretty girl stuck a rose in the muzzle of my carbine and planted a lipstick-laden kiss on my cheek Glasses of wine were proffered It was, indeed, a great day, particularly for those Fifth Army soldiers who had been engaged in tough fighting since late 1942 in Tunisia (even though our time in the headlines was very shortlived)

Far more important events took place in Normandy the next morning Our contribution to success at Normandy was keeping 36 good German divisions engaged far from Normandy, including the 1st, 2nd and 4th Parachute Divisions, the Hermann Goering Division, and 10 Panzer and Panzer Grenadier Divisions

In Bolger's list of Fifth Army elements, he missed the 34th "Red Bull" Division (my outfit), although he did list the 100th Battalion, which fought as a battalion of the 133rd Regiment of the 34th Division He also failed to mention the Polish 2nd Corps, whose fight to get into the fight on the Allied side is another tale worth telling The Brazilian Expeditionary Force had not yet joined Fifth Army, but its advance party was with the 34th Division on June 5 As first sergeant of a field artillery battery and then a newly minted second lieutenant, I had contact with soldiers from Britain, France, Canada, India, Algeria, Morocco, New Zealand, Palestine and Italy; there was no doubt that we were in a "world war"

In Daniel Goure's article, "Five Other Challenges Facing the Army," I'm a bit baffled by his paragraphs on "Balancing Regular Army and Reserve Forces" In the post-Vietnam era, Gen Creighton W Abrams Jr charged us to build "One Army" for the nation's needs from the Regulars and the Guard and Reserves That should be the watchword for the Army today as well National Guard divisions should mirror their Regular Army counterparts There may be some good reason, not apparent to me, for taking the Apaches out of the Guard division aviation brigades, but if that is the case, regular Apache outfits should be assigned to the Guard divisions so that training for battle can be uniform

Historically, Guard and Reserve aviation units in the Army and Air Force have been good high-readiness bargains Flying-hour programs have been the same as for the regular force The Guard and Reserve aviators are often involved in commercial aviation, and usually there has been more stability in the reserve component maintenance troops than in the active force Goure also writes, "Mobilization restrictions and training requirements make it highly doubtful that the National Guard could generate brigade combat teams rapidly enough to meet the initial response times for future conflicts"

True, but they can certainly be ready to reinforce by the time the regular forces are deployed Transportation will probably be the limiting factor

The planners need to decide when the Guard forces will be needed for deployment and then provide the necessary boosts to readiness--for example, enriching the mixture of full-timers, either Regulars or active, Guard, and Reserve soldiers Provide incentives to get Guard soldiers to fulfill training requirements on their own time; physical fitness and marksmanship are two easy examples I'm sure that smart planners and leaders in the Guard and the active Army can find sensible ways to make Guard units as ready as they need to be to fit the nation's needs

There are many communities in America where the only Army to be seen is the reserve component Army In the interest of Abrams' "One Army," whatever Army our citizens see ought to be top-notch

Gen John W Vessey
, USA Ret
Garrison, Minnesota




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Beyond NATO Commitments, MN State Partnership with Croatia Continues to Grow

Posted: 2017-06-22  10:25 AM
Saber Strike SPP PABRADE, Lithuania - Since 1996, the Minnesota National Guard and the Croatian Armed Forces have been partners in the National Guard's State Partnership Program. Beyond the bond of the NATO commitment, a mutual trust and unique bond has been forged amongst the warriors of each respective nation. From Camp Ripley to Karlovac, the soldiers have found a common cause of continuous improvement. Exercise after exercise, there has been a greater appreciation of one another's culture and customs.

You don't have to look to far to see this dynamic. When asked if he had ever worked with Minnesota National Guardsmen before, 1Lt Emanuel Hamer of the Croatian Armed Forces said, "This is my fourth time working with 2-136 "Bearcats," each time we grow closer and stronger. I feel like they are members of my unit. I'm glad I have this opportunity to learn new techniques and share some of our own with the Americans."



7 Nations, 4 Branches, 1 Mission; Saber Strike '17

Posted: 2017-06-20  02:14 PM
Saber Strike 17 PABRADE, Lithuania - As the sun begins to set on the Lithuanian countryside, the final touches are put on the camouflage netting designed to break the silhouette and conceal the position of the Tactical Action Center, or TAC, of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division on June 17, 2017. As part of the multinational exercise of Saber Strike '17, the 1/34th ABCT is providing support to the Air Assault Task Force Commander, Col. Charles Kemper.

As the first ever combined air and ground assault in the annual Saber Strike exercise, this year's exercise has set a milestone in testing the compatibility of seven nations and all military branches.

"We want to reassure all of our NATO Allies that we are in this together," said Kemper. "We're part of the team and we can demonstrate capability."



Minnesota Aviators complete successful eXportable Combat Training Capability exercise

Posted: 2017-06-20  08:30 AM
XCTC FORT HOOD, Texas - Soldiers from the Minnesota National Guard's 2-147th Assault Helicopter Battalion wrapped up support for an eXportable Combat Training Capability (XCTC) exercise at Fort Hood, Texas, recently. The unit was part of Task Force Ragnar, the exercise's aviation element, supporting the Tennessee National Guard's 278th Armored Calvary Regiment as they prepare for a rotation to the National Training Center in 2018.

"Our mission is to support a brigade element here," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 John Otremba, with the 2-147. "But I think our ultimate mission is to train for an austere environment which sets us up for success at NTC next year."

The task force conducted aviation support missions including air assault, sling load, deliberate attack, defensive positioning and key leader escorts. They also conducted aviation-specific training in personnel recovery, downed aircraft recovery, field maintenance and air traffic control operations.



CERFP exercise tests Guardsmen, new evaluation team

Posted: 2017-06-08  01:42 PM
evaluators DULUTH, Minn. - Minnesota National Guard members serving in a variety of roles tested their skills as evaluators and domestic response assets during a Combined Training Exercise simulating a chemical explosion in the harbors of Duluth from June 3 to June 9, 2017.

The exercise was the first time in nearly four years that the specialized 55th Civil Support Team - which would respond to a Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) threat before any other Minnesota National Guard unit - worked in conjunction with the 84th Troop Command's CBRN Enhanced Response Force Package. In practice, the CST would provide the initial response and hand the mission off to the CERFP, which is capable of mass decontamination and casualty support as well search and recovery expertise in the event of collapsed or damaged structures.

And as crews of CERFP Soldiers donned protective gear, established decontamination lanes and prepared for swells of simulated victims seeking medical attention, a few select Soldiers quietly observed it all.



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