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Minnesota National Guard
Largest Minnesota National Guard subordinate command leads U.S. units in readiness

Command Center BLOOMINGTON, Minn- While 2014 is coming to a close, the Minnesota National Guard is looking to finalize the structural reorganizations that have been implemented over the past year

As Col Robert Intress, commander of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division put it, "We're on the precipice of a very big period of change"

Already the largest of the Minnesota Army National Guard's four major subordinate commands, the 1/34th ABCT has seen a new field artillery battery added to their 1st Battalion, 125th Field Artillery, as well as the addition of the 1st Battalion, 145th Armored Regiment out of Stowe, Ohio, which is aligned for training The 1/34th Brigade Special Troops Battalion was also converted into the 334th Brigade Engineer Battalion, adding additional engineering capabilities to the unit

"There are three types of brigade combat teams in the Army Force Structure - armored, infantry, and Stryker," Intress explains "Each come with the correct types of support elements embedded within their force structure so that they can be mobilized, deployed and utilized in an austere environment They are self-supporting, so they are 'plug-and-play' into any larger organization"

That self-supporting capacity, however, would not be possible without a trained and capable force In terms of readiness, the 1/34th ABCT was number one in the Army National Guard force structure

"That level of readiness will pay us some huge dividends over the next two years," said Intress

The brigade has begun its progression towards a high-level exercise at the National Training Center (NTC) in Fort Irwin, Calif Before that takes place in 2016, there are two other events that the Soldiers will be participating in first

In April 2015, the brigade will conduct a Brigade Warfighter Exercise (BWFX) at Camp Ripley Training Center in order to provide a virtual battlefield with realistic demands designed to hone battle management skills and point the 1/34th ABCT in the right direction for its Exportable Combat Training Capability (XCTC) Rotation and NTC Rotation

"Following the training of our warfighter where we're doing the validation and training of our battalion and brigade staff officers and their commanders, we'll be doing an XCTC rotation that will be done up at Camp Ripley," said Intress "It will be a 21-day annual training period for our battalions and it's really focused on what we call platoon-collective training, really getting after the Army mission that our small units are directed to do"

The capstone of this training series will be an opportunity to perform at the NTC This rotation is usually reserved for active-duty units The 1/34th ABCT will be the only National Guard brigade going to the NTC in 2016 The opportunity is not only unique for a National Guard unit, but also beneficial for tough, realistic training to help improve the force and prepare for success

"The training requirements are going to be many, but the reward at the end of that NTC is really second to none," Intress emphasized "It will be a highlight and true validation of everything that our Soldiers have put forth in their military career in the most rigorous training environment that the Army can replicate"

October 5, 2014
by Sgt Linsey Williams
1st Armored Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs



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