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Minnesota National Guard
Cooks Get Fired Up for Competition Comeback

Cooks Get Fired Up for Competition Comeback CAMP RIPLEY, Minn - Culinary sections of the Minnesota National Guard and Army Reserve participated in the 48th Annual Philip A Connelly Regional Competition July 10, 2015

"It is a culinary competition, where the section is evaluated not just on food preparation and quality, but on field site layout, food service and sanitation, as well as maintenance of equipment and training," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Paul Erickson, food program manager for the Minnesota National Guard

The Department of the Army and the International Food Service Executives Association established the Phillip A Connelly Memorial Awards Program in 1968 The program is designed to improve food service operations Army wide and recognize the achievements of superb unit performance and stellar management practices

Each October, the competition is announced and the menu is sent out Army-wide This year's menu is savory baked chicken, spicy brown rice, and herbed broccoli The unit culinary sections had the choice of what they serve for dessert along with warm and cold beverages

"This is the one competition where the culinary sections, from around the state, can show their expertise in the area of field kitchen operations," said Erickson

Staff Sgt Dawn Mahon, acting culinary management supervisor for D Company, 134th Brigade Support Battalion, showed her culinary expertise with a meal that evaluator Keith Mackie said was the best he has seen so far in his evaluations D Company, placed second in last year's state competition

"It's a story of the comeback kid," said Mahon "It's a challenge that any Soldier would aspire to, this is where we get to make a difference within our organization," she added

First Cook Sgt Brian Hacken, prepared a Florida Lemon cake garnished with candied lemon rinds He is not only a trained Army cook, but is also a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Spec Vicki Greene knocked it out of the park with the savory baked chicken Greene used progressive cooking techniques to ensure the Soldiers at the end of the line received the same great quality of chicken as the first in line

The regional competition ends on July 31, 2015 The winners of the regional will move on to the Department of the Army competition The winners will receive $50,000 dollars in kitchen equipment for their armory and the bragging rights of being the best in the nation


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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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