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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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Finding fellowship in the sacred mission

Posted: 2017-09-26  12:02 PM
Minnesota National Guard CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - One of the most difficult, most sacred, honorable duties in the military is one that people don't often think about. It takes compassion, empathy, care, and requires great resilience. It is one that when called upon to train for, they hope to rarely perform because it means another Soldier has been lost. It is the duty of casualty notification officer and casualty assistance officer.

About 45 Minnesota Army National Guard Soldiers came to Camp Ripley, Minnesota, on September 21-22, 2017, for a Reset Seminar to find fellowship in one specific thing they have in common: delivering the worst news in the Army.

When a Soldier dies at home or overseas, CNOs and CAOs must notify and help families through the process, including paperwork, benefits, and funeral arrangements.



Minnesota Guardsmen participate in Aurora 17 exercise in Sweden

Posted: 2017-09-25  09:06 AM
Aurora 17 SKOVDE, Sweden - Minnesota National Guard Soldiers from the 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 194th Armor traveled overseas in mid-Sept. 2017 to take part in a cooperative, national defense training exercise with allied countries.

"The education and experience these Soldiers will receive is invaluable," said Command Sgt. Maj. Shane Hybben, 1-194th command sergeant major. "Our Soldiers will have operated in joint forces operations with fire and maneuver, which will allow for best practices to be shared and used in the future. They will have a better understanding of other military forces and how they operate not only strengthening our force but everyone involved."

The Brainerd-based battalion spearheaded the mission to Sweden as the most recent element of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division to have taken part in joint international training missions throughout Europe since early 2017.



34th Inf. Div. Commander Re-Dedicates Intersection to Fallen Massachusetts WWII Red Bull

Posted: 2017-09-20  08:33 AM
Winthrop WINTHROP, Mass. - Settled in 1630, Winthrop is one of the oldest communities in the United States. Service members of all branches of the military from this seaside town just north of Boston have fought on behalf of their state and nation since the Revolutionary War. On Saturday, Sept. 16th, Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, the commanding general of the Minnesota-based 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, participated in a ceremony that honored one of Winthrop's own: Pvt. 1st Class Andrew Biggio.

Like so many young men of his era, 19-year old Winthrop native Andrew Giovanni Biggio raised his hand to volunteer for service in 1944. He was assigned to B Company, 135th Infantry Regiment of the 34th Infantry Division. An infantryman, Biggio fought valiantly with the Red Bulls, liberating the Italian towns of Viterbo, Cecina and Liverno. His heroic actions in combat earned Pvt. 1st Class Biggio a Bronze Star Medal.



Minnesota National Guard to highlight diversity and leadership development at Women's Leadership Forum

Posted: 2017-09-15  10:45 AM
Minnesota National Guard FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 15, 2017

MAPLEWOOD, Minn.- Nearly 650 soldiers and airmen are scheduled to attend the Minnesota National Guard's third annual Women's Leadership Forum at the 3M Corporate Headquarters Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017.

"The Minnesota National Guard continues to diversify our force and grow strong leaders," said Brig. Gen. Sandy Best, chief of staff of the Minnesota Air National Guard. "Strong leaders are able to self-manage and channel emotions to produce desired behaviors and results."

The forum is part of an overall effort to promote an inclusive culture, diversify the organization, grow strong leaders and provide professional leadership development for both women and men. The topics will focus on emotional intelligence, leadership, high performing teams and creating a championship culture.



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