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Minnesota National Guard
Soldier ingenuity leads to breakthrough in rail operations

Rail operations CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - On a brisk November morning at the Camp Ripley Training Center railhead, Soldiers from both the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team and 347th Regional Support Group were busy training on skills needed to pull off the largest rail operation in Minnesota in nearly 10 years.

On one end of the training area, Soldiers were directing Abrams tanks and Humvees up a ramp and onto empty railcars. Using heavy chains and tie down equipment, the vehicles were then secured to the flatbed cars.

On the other end of the training area, Soldiers were testing a breakthrough process to significantly reduce the amount of time needed to get that equipment load ready.

Joined by representatives from Intercomp, a company providing advanced weighing systems, unit movement officers practiced on the Deployable Automated Cargo Measurement System - a portable system that records a vehicle's dimensions, axle weight, total weight and center of balance in a matter of seconds.

"The DACMS is an automated system that profiles and weighs a vehicle," said Eric Larson, Intercomp's Military Accounts Manager. "The system takes the manual element out of the process, reducing error and saving time."

"We used to manually measure everything, with our digital scales we have to place them under each axil," said Staff Sgt. Jennifer Morse, transportation NCO with 1/34th ABCT. "We would then manually enter that information into the Army's Transportation Coordinator's Automated Information for Movement System, which provides the unit movement planners the data needed to come up with the load plan."

Despite the advantages of using Intercomp's "in-motion" scale, limitations remained. Essentially, the DACMS and the Army systems couldn't "talk" - meaning all of the data measured by the DACMS had to be manually uploaded into the Army system.

"Intercomp had been trying to integrate the systems, with efforts going back 8 years," said Larson. "The system works with the Air Force and Marines' load panning systems, but we weren't able to get it done with the Army."

Thanks to the efforts of Chief Warrant Officer 2 David Mellon, the 1st ABCT's mobility officer, that all changed. After the initial sit down with Intercomp - which focused on the newly-sourced portable MH-Series wheel load scales, which also play a vital role weighing vehicles for deployment - the integration issue was first identified. It was at this point Mellon went to work to find a solution for both portable scales and the Intercomp "In-motion" scale system.

"Through our partnership, just weeks after we first fielded the new scales, we began working with their IT programmers to find a solution," Mellon said.

"[Mellon] was able to find a way to export the data from our DACMS into a format that could be read by the Army system," said Larson. "It's going to be a big deal. This is the first time we've been able to do this, and we are proving it here. When it works here, it will go Army wide."

"Now, when we prepare our equipment to load onto railcars in May, we will be able to get a battalions' inventory of vehicles weighed in 4 to 5 hours," Mellon said. "We're talking hours to get a job done instead of days."

The efficiency of the system, working in concert with the hands-on tie-down skills of Soldiers securing the equipment to railcars, will be key when the Soldiers come together for nine days in May 2016 to load an estimated 1,300 pieces of equipment onto more than 450 railcars, a massive logistical operation that is unprecedented in Minnesota.

December 7, 2015
by Staff Sgt. Patrick Loch
1st Armored Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs



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Minnesota National Guard Remembers the Holocaust with Jewish Community Relations Council

Posted: 2017-04-24  10:43 AM
Holocaust Museum Washington - Members of the Minnesota National Guard and the Air Force Reserve traveled to Washington D.C. with the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (also known as the JCRC), to visit the Holocaust Museum, April 4, 2017, to honor the victims of the Holocaust. Also, traveling with this group were St. Paul and Minneapolis police officers along with students from various high schools around the state. For those in uniform that day, it was an opportunity to see, hear and experience the stories of victims and survivors of the Holocaust.

Each Service member who attended was asked to bring back a summary of their experience in the form of a presentation, professional discussion or briefing to their respective unit in order to help other Guard members better understand and remember that horrible event, to honor the courage of the victims and survivors, and to remain vigilant as members of the U.S. military.

"The honor and privilege of accompanying members of the Minnesota National Guard to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. met so many goals," said Steve Hunegs, the executive director of the JCRC. "I wanted to reinforce the importance of the commitment of the U.S. military to democracy. After all, it was the Allies that defeated Nazi Germany and ultimately put an end to the Holocaust."



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Posted: 2017-04-19  02:15 PM
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Soldiers of National Guard units from all over the United States took part in the course designed to educate team leaders in a variety of funeral honor detail tasks, traditions and responsibilities.

"It's a stressful course, but for our job, we have to be prepared to do our job under stress; and we all really benefitted from that," said Class Honor Grad, Sgt. Ryan Valline of the 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry.



Chaplains support Muslim Soldiers by finding common ground

Posted: 2017-04-18  01:42 PM
Chaplain Shabazz ROSEMOUNT, Minn. - The Soldiers of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division had a unique opportunity to speak with one of the U.S. Army's five Muslim chaplains April 7-10, 2017. U.S. Army Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Khallid Shabazz, I Corps deputy command chaplain, travelled from Fort Lewis, Washington, to Minnesota to provide professional development for the division chaplain section.

"Soldiers perform at a higher level when they are spiritually fit," said Minnesota National Guard Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Buddy Winn, the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division command chaplain. "And, it's our job as chaplains to make sure Soldiers have their spiritual needs met, regardless of faith. Having Chaplain Shabazz here as a Muslim Chaplain provides the diversity in religious background that we can't provide internally."

There are five major religions supported by the chaplaincy: Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist, but over 200 religions are recognized. Chaplains can only perform services for their particular religion, but they can provide support for all Soldiers, regardless of their faith.



Howling with pride - Minnesota Service members honored by MN Timberwolves

Posted: 2017-04-14  04:25 PM
Timberwolves ST. PAUL, Minn. - For the third consecutive year, Minnesota service members were honored with on-court recognition and other VIP treatments as part of the Minnesota Timberwolves Heroes of the Pack Program.

"We are very appreciative for what the military does for us, and we wanted to give something back to honor the military," said Roger McCabe, who along with wife, Nancy, is a driving force behind the recognitions through the FastBreak Foundation and Roger & Nancy McCabe Foundation. "This is our way of doing it."

Having lived through the Vietnam War - and with Roger and Nancy both having parents who served - the two philanthropists decided a few years back to build upon existing recognition efforts already underway by the Timberwolves. And with that, recognitions that were typically happening at Target Center in November expanded to include Minnesota Service members from all branches at every home game - a total of 41 honorees per season.



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