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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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Litchfield and Local Veteran Honor Gen. John Vessey at Armory Open House

Posted: 2017-03-10  08:50 AM
Vessey Bust LITCHFIELD, Minn. -Bruce Cottington, a Navy veteran of WWII and Korea, donated a bronze bust of Gen. John W. Vessey, Jr. to the Litchfield National Guard unit during the armory's public open house event March 4. Cottington, a Litchfield resident, commands the Minnesota Chapter of the Veterans of Underage Military Service. VUMS members enlisted in the military prior to the minimum age requirement in order to serve their country during WWII. Cottington received the bust from Vessey, a fellow VUMS member. Both enlisted in the military at the age of 16.

The highlight of the 334th Brigade Engineer Battalion open house was the unveiling of the sculpture. The unit was very supportive when Cottington proposed donating the sculpture. The Litchfield community has always been very supportive of the National Guard over the years, so the open house was a chance to say 'thanks' to their neighbors. "This was a great opportunity to honor Bruce and to honor Gen. Vessey," said B Co., 334th Brigade Engineer Battalion Commander, Capt. Seth Goreham. Bravo Company also has a tight relationship with the local American Legion and VFW. Many Litchfield citizens are former members of Bravo Company, or the unit's predecessors A Co, 682nd Engineer Battalion, and the 849th Mobility Augmentation Company.



Camp Ripley welcomes new command sergeant major

Posted: 2017-03-08  03:29 PM
CSM Erickson CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - The garrison command team of Camp Ripley, family, friends and colleagues from the Minnesota National Guard attended a Change of Responsibility ceremony between Command Sgt. Maj. Mike Worden and Command Sgt. Maj. Matt Erickson, March 5, 2017, at Camp Ripley.

The ceremony was an official "passing of the sword" from one senior noncommissioned officer to the next and assumption of the duties and responsibilities that go along with the position of Garrison Command Sergeant Major.

As with many military ceremonies those in attendance welcomed Erickson as a new member of the team and bid farewell, recognized and thanked Worden for his service.



Norwegian youth recognized for response to vehicle accident

Posted: 2017-02-22  09:59 AM
NOREX youth CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - Norwegian youths Stian Dahl and Haavard Engen received the Camp Ripley Garrison Commander's coin from Col. Scott St Sauver February 19, 2017, in recognition for reacting to a vehicle accident they witnessed earlier that week.

As part of the U.S.-Norway Reciprocal Troop Exchange, Norwegian youths ages 19-20 are matched up with a host family in order to spend an evening experiencing American culture. In most situations the "Buddy Weekend" as it's called allows the youths to go shopping, attend events and have home-cook meals along with their host family.

"We are able to match up youth members with families all over the state," said Staff Sgt. Tim Krouth, Buddy Weekend organizer. "Lots of the families have hosted one or two of our Norwegian friends for several years in a row now, it a great way to relax and see some of Minnesota."



To the top of the mountain and back, NOREX 44 members embrace the Norwegian winter

Posted: 2017-02-21  01:25 PM
NOREX FTX HALTDALEN, Norway - After two days at a base camp near Haltdalen, Norway, Minnesota National Guardsmen participating in the 44th Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange were ready for the most challenging aspect of their four-day field training exercise - a ski march up the mountain.

It was Day three of the FTX, meaning members of the 44th Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange had slowly adjusted to surviving and thriving while living in a winter environment and also honed their skills on cross country skills well enough to begin a climb that would take nearly three hours.

"Our goal was to get you to know how to use the winter, see how the Norwegians use the winter, and how we survive the winter so we can conduct combat," said Vidar Aune, one of several members of Home Guard 12 guiding the Minnesota National Guard Soldiers and Airmen during their training here. "By getting the experience living outside in the snow, you manage to survive it and handle it quite well."



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