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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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Mission Complete: Bearcats Finish NATO Exercise in Lithuania's Suwalki Gap

Posted: 2017-06-23  02:56 PM
Air Assault Saber Strike PABRADE, Lithuania - At the sound of 17 U.S. Army rotary wing aircraft humming through the air, Soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard's 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry, in addition to Service members of five NATO Allied countries, load onto Black Hawk, Chinook and Apache helicopters, at Kazlu Ruda airstrip during the Saber Strike exercise, June 17, 2017. The multinational effort came together to conduct an air and ground assault in the Suwalki Gap to demonstrate the nations' capability to respond to any hostile act of a potential adversary.

"You could tell on everyone's faces that this was go time," said Sgt. Derrick Bruestle, a team leader for 2-136th CAB, also known as the Bearcats. "It wasn't just a training exercise to them anymore, it was a serious mission with real implications on the real world."

The magnitude of the exercise set in as the first bird lifted off the airstrip and started moving toward the objective in a staggered formation. Saber Strike is a U.S. Army Europe-led NATO exercise meant to exhibit a strengthened partnership of the military assets of the NATO Alliance.



Beyond NATO Commitments, MN State Partnership with Croatia Continues to Grow

Posted: 2017-06-22  10:25 AM
Saber Strike SPP PABRADE, Lithuania - Since 1996, the Minnesota National Guard and the Croatian Armed Forces have been partners in the National Guard's State Partnership Program. Beyond the bond of the NATO commitment, a mutual trust and unique bond has been forged amongst the warriors of each respective nation. From Camp Ripley to Karlovac, the soldiers have found a common cause of continuous improvement. Exercise after exercise, there has been a greater appreciation of one another's culture and customs.

You don't have to look to far to see this dynamic. When asked if he had ever worked with Minnesota National Guardsmen before, 1Lt Emanuel Hamer of the Croatian Armed Forces said, "This is my fourth time working with 2-136 "Bearcats," each time we grow closer and stronger. I feel like they are members of my unit. I'm glad I have this opportunity to learn new techniques and share some of our own with the Americans."



7 Nations, 4 Branches, 1 Mission; Saber Strike '17

Posted: 2017-06-20  02:14 PM
Saber Strike 17 PABRADE, Lithuania - As the sun begins to set on the Lithuanian countryside, the final touches are put on the camouflage netting designed to break the silhouette and conceal the position of the Tactical Action Center, or TAC, of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division on June 17, 2017. As part of the multinational exercise of Saber Strike '17, the 1/34th ABCT is providing support to the Air Assault Task Force Commander, Col. Charles Kemper.

As the first ever combined air and ground assault in the annual Saber Strike exercise, this year's exercise has set a milestone in testing the compatibility of seven nations and all military branches.

"We want to reassure all of our NATO Allies that we are in this together," said Kemper. "We're part of the team and we can demonstrate capability."



Minnesota Aviators complete successful eXportable Combat Training Capability exercise

Posted: 2017-06-20  08:30 AM
XCTC FORT HOOD, Texas - Soldiers from the Minnesota National Guard's 2-147th Assault Helicopter Battalion wrapped up support for an eXportable Combat Training Capability (XCTC) exercise at Fort Hood, Texas, recently. The unit was part of Task Force Ragnar, the exercise's aviation element, supporting the Tennessee National Guard's 278th Armored Calvary Regiment as they prepare for a rotation to the National Training Center in 2018.

"Our mission is to support a brigade element here," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 John Otremba, with the 2-147. "But I think our ultimate mission is to train for an austere environment which sets us up for success at NTC next year."

The task force conducted aviation support missions including air assault, sling load, deliberate attack, defensive positioning and key leader escorts. They also conducted aviation-specific training in personnel recovery, downed aircraft recovery, field maintenance and air traffic control operations.



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