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History
Minnesota National Guard
Landmark year for the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team

Minnesota National Guard CAMP RIPLEY, Minn- 2014 was a landmark year for the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division In accordance with the Army's 2020 Force Structure Realignment, the 1/34th ABCT was one of the first Army National Guard brigade combat teams to implement major organizational changes prior to 2015

On Oct 18, 2014, the 1/34th Brigade Special Troops Battalion completed its reorganization into the 334th Brigade Engineer Battalion The additional engineer capabilities support the Army's goal of having the Guard's primary fighting formations match those in the active Army as self-contained combined arms formations

The brigade also added a third artillery battery to the 1st Battalion, 125th Field Artillery and entered an aligned for training relationship with the 1st Battalion, 145th Armor Regiment from the Ohio Army National Guard

In conjunction with finalizing its restructuring, the 1/34th ABCT has been preparing for two major training events in April and May of 2015 The first week of February was dedicated to a Communications Exercise (COMMEX) involving all of the subordinate battalions to the brigade This was the second of these exercises which have been vital in validating fixes to personnel, software, hardware and staff battle drills in preparation for the Brigade Warfighter Exercise at Camp Ripley Training Center in April

"The first COMMEX in November was system oriented," explained Lt Col Tadd Vanyo, Executive Officer for the 1/34th ABCT "We did not test Soldier operators We watched the systems talk to see where there are faults This second COMMEX is more of a staff exercise to put operators behind the systems and communicate tactical information as we will during the Brigade Warfighter Exercise"

A BWFX provides a virtual battlefield with realistic demands that are designed to hone battle management skills The exercise also allows brigade staff to establish a command post with all mission command systems and gives the staff the opportunity to validate its standard operating procedures before the 1/34th ABCT's participation in the Army National Guard's eXportable Combat Training Capability

"Where warfighter includes the brigade and battalion headquarters staff, XCTC focuses more on battalion maneuver and gunnery training," Vanyo continued

XCTC will be held at Camp Ripley from May through August of 2015 This is the first of six Army National Guard XCTC events to be held this year The 1/34th ABCT will be joined by the 67th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade of the Nebraska Army National Guard and the 196th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade of the South Dakota National Guard this summer Designed to certify company proficiency, XCTC will incorporate force-on-force maneuver training, live fire ranges and contingency-based scenarios

"It's a crawl-walk-run process," said Sgt Maj Darin Mjoen, Operations Sergeant Major for the 1/34th ABCT "Right now we're in the crawl phase where we have to understand the mission and the process for tasking, commanding and fighting the fight"

Following XCTC, the brigade will participate in a 28-day National Training Center rotation at Fort Irwin, Calif, in 2016 Because of its excellent readiness posture, the 1/34th ABCT was picked to be the Army National Guard brigade invited to train at NTC next year

"At NTC there are going to be a lot of eyes on us and its imperative we take our lessons learned from the Warfighter Exercise and XCTC rotation and incorporate them into our unit training plans for 2016," Mjoen said

2015 will be a crucial period for the 1/34th ABCT Upcoming events like BWFX and XCTC will test the more than 5,000 Soldiers within the brigade and better prepare the unit for unified land operations through combined arms maneuver and wide area security

February 13, 2015
by Sgt Linsey Williams
1st Armored Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs



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