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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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Minnesota Guardsmen learn survival skills, train with Norwegian counterparts

Posted: 2018-07-03  01:36 PM
NOREX 45 Over the course of 10 days, 100 Soldiers and Airmen from the Minnesota National Guard who traveled to Norway June 17-26, 2018, for the 45th Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange learned valuable survival skills and shared their knowledge with members of the Norwegian Home Guard. This year's exchange was the second to take place during the summer months in the history of the longest-running military partnership between two nations.

"It was a great experience for both the Minnesota National Guard and the Norwegian Home Guard," said Capt. 'Kiwi' HorgA�ien, the senior Norwegian instructor. "A cultural exchange, a social exchange and military exchange all packed into one."

The 45th exchange got off to a late start, with flight delays causing the trip to be shortened from its normal length of two weeks. The delay meant that the Minnesota Guardsmen jumped right into training, heading out to the field after just a few hours of sleep.



133rd Airlift Wing Emphasizes Combat Readiness Training

Posted: 2018-06-29  10:48 AM
Alpena ALPENA, Michigan - Approximately 300 U.S. Air Force Airmen from the 133rd Airlift Wing participated in a readiness exercise at the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, Alpena, Mich.

The exercise, tagged as Iron Ore, was designed test the Airmen abilities to set up operations at an unfamiliar location and receive in depth training on Ability-To-Survive and Operate (ATSO) principles while supporting airlift and aeromedical flight operations.

To ensure mission success and readiness, Airmen had to complete training at home station prior to leaving for Alpena. Some of this training included weapons qualification, gas mask fit testing, Mission Oriented Protective Posture (MOPP) familiarization, self-aid and buddy care and career field training.



Red Bulls Kickoff Division Warfighter

Posted: 2018-06-13  01:38 PM
DIV WFX CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. - "A Warfighter is an exercise that allows the Division to evaluate their ability to maneuver assets in a battle," said Master Sgt. Greg Weaver, the Operations Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge for the Division Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion. "It is designed to focus on particular areas and specific objectives to be evaluated or tested."

The Division has geared its' planning and training efforts in preparation for Warfighter since July 2017. Coordinating transportation for Soldiers and equipment was often on the mind of Maj. David Johansson, the logistics officer for the 34th ID. With the coordination of Johansson and his team, troops and equipment all converged on Camp Atterbury, enlisting the help of 89 railcars, 280 tractor-trailers, and nearly 50 buses for the movement.

"I like to say my job is to 'quiet the noise'". Johansson continued, "The noise being a real life logistical problem that could impede the exercise."



Minnesota-based aviation unit takes part in Warfighter Exercise

Posted: 2018-06-08  11:59 AM
34ECAB WFX CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. - More than 150 Soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard's 34th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade are here participating in a multi-echelon training event, Warfighter Exercise 18-5, May 30 to June 15.

The exercise, which is part live and part virtual, is testing the St. Paul, Minnesota-based aviation unit's ability to conduct operations and mission command in a high-intensity, complex operating environment. Soldiers are being challenged to take decisive action as they focus on air-ground operations -- or synchronizing and integrating aviation operations into the scheme of maneuver planned and conducted by forces on the ground.

In this case, the units on the ground are being commanded by the Rosemount, Minnesota-based 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, which is also participating in the exercise.



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