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Minnesota National Guard
Keeping Camp Ripley's 53,000 acres safe no small task

Minnesota National Guard CAMP RIPLEY, Minn- As calls come in on the radio and people walk in the front door, Spc Sean Flahave, a range specialist for the Minnesota National Guard's Training Support Unit, keeps busy from the moment he arrives to the time he leaves

While Spc Flahave runs through the slides of his power-point presentation on range safety, the partially-filled room of Soldiers listens carefully for all pertinent information that will be helpful to their unit With the occasional hand rising in the air for a question, Flahave answers any discrepancies the Soldiers have Covering every topic from barricaded roads to running a safe ammunition point, he ensures that the briefed Soldiers have everything they will need to operate a safe and efficient range in the following days

Flahave is passionate about his job as a range specialist When it comes down to it, he said, it is his job to ensure that units are operating the ranges with care There is a tremendous amount of attention to detail that must be taken in order to minimize the risk of a Soldier being injured

Camp Ripley Range Control runs 24-hour operations in order to keep up with the increased range use in the summer During these times of increased visits, he averages three to four safety briefs a day

"One of the best things about my job is that I get to interact with different ranks, all the while seeing what they know and [what they] think," Flahave explains

The range control staff at Camp Ripley consists of a great bunch of Soldiers, he said If someone asks them a question they don't know the answer to, they will pull all their resources together to ensure they leave no question unanswered

Flahave's father, Timothy Flahave, the Sgt Maj for the 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 194th Armored Regiment, has spent his time in the Minnesota National Guard as a tanker He has passed on his fondness of tanks to his son which keeps him excited to perform safety inspections on exercises whenever tanks are operating in East Range

The corner of Flahave's mouth starts to curl into a smile as he talks about Bradleys and other tanks With a full smile now covering his face, he continues to brief on the safety measures that need to be taken while down range

1st Lt Julian M Plamann, the officer-in-charge at the M-4 Rifle Qualification Range, says, "The range control safety briefing ensures that all personnel operating the range are on the same page as Range Control to ensure all precautions are being taken to maintain a safe range for all shooters"

Spc Flahave focuses on the point of "safety first" to the Soldiers in his brief It is everyone's job to identify any unsafe act and correct it no matter what rank while still retaining your military bearing

"I enjoy everything from bridging operations on the Mississippi River to mortar fire, and learning all the different components from different weapons systems," says Spc Flahave "It all fascinates me with how sufficient and proficient the Minnesota National Guard is" The range is one of the places that all the Minnesota National Guard's moving parts come together and synchronize with each other

Throughout his brief, Flahave emphasizes the importance of not becoming complacent on the range He says, "Complacency leads to injuries and even though someone wants to speed up the process, you still must hit all of the main points and make it stick into the units heads to keep them safe"

As a range specialist, Flahave has to continuously keep up to date on the new policies because they are changing from day-to-day in order to keep everyone down range safe To expedite the process of conducting an exercise down range, paperwork is the most common change to Camp Ripley Range Control policies, he said

"Policies change day in and day out It is the little things that we find that may lead to a safety violation, injury or accident that we catch in time to change the policy," said Flahave Flahave ends his brief with answering any remaining questions from the Soldiers to ensure they are all as prepared as possible for their time out on the range

Spc Sean Flahave has been working at Camp Ripley Training Center's Range Control as a range specialist since March of 2010 Not a day passes where he regrets accepting his current position there

"I love dealing with the troops, I love interacting with different people, and I love learning all the things they know," said Flahave "This is the best job in the world"

August 11, 2014
by Spc William Boecker
1st Armored Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs

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