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JOINT BASE LEWIS MCCHORD, Washington - Soldiers of the 34th "Red Bull" Infantry Division headquarters based out of Rosemount, Minnesota, traveled to Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington, in late November to conduct a premier military-to-military training exercise with the Japanese army in support of the U.S. and Japan partnership.
"This is the second time the 34th Infantry Division has participated in the Yama Sakura training event in the past five years," said 34th ID Deputy Commander of Sustainment Brig. Gen. William Lieder. "Not only does this exercise improve the readiness and interoperability of our Soldiers, but it also builds trust and confidence between the U.S. and Japanese militaries, which is key to maintaining a peaceful Asia-Pacific region.
"The exercise is mainly geared toward I Corps, but the 34th Infantry Division assists with their corps-level training by feeding information up to higher levels," said Lieder. "In doing so, the Red Bull Soldiers get an opportunity to contribute to U.S.-Japan relationship building while receiving highly-realistic training that will in turn sharpen their skills."
During the exercise, approximately 200 Red Bull Soldiers worked from the Mission Training Complex on Joint Base Lewis McChord, and a handful of Soldiers worked as liaisons in Hawaii or Japan. Although most Red Bull Soldiers are not working side-by-side with Japanese counterparts, the training they receive is invaluable should there ever be a need to respond to a crisis in the Pacific, Lieder said.
"The scenario we are using in the exercise is challenging," said Maj. Brian Douty, 34th Infantry Division Deputy Effects Coordinator. "It is structured around the defense of Japan, and its constraints have really tested our fires knowledge. In the past, training scenarios were focused on either Iraq or Afghanistan, so it's been a refreshing change of pace."
Douty, a field artillery officer with nearly 18 years of experience and two combat deployments, has a personal tie to this exercise; his mother is a first generation Japanese-American.
"I would have really liked to have gone over to Japan for this exercise since I am half Japanese," he said, "but it's been interesting being involved in the exercise regardless... it's a scenario where I am fighting alongside people who share my heritage."
"I'm hoping we can be involved in this exercise again in the future," said Douty, a Pipestone, Minnesota, native. "I might actually have the opportunity to visit Japan and work more closely with the Japanese forces. It would be interesting to see if I had any distant family in the Japanese military."
The partnership between the U.S. and Japan spans more than 60 years, dating back to the 1951/1960 security treaty. This is the 34th iteration of the Yama Sakura exercise, the first of which took place in 1982.
"The 34th Inf.antry Division is perfectly positioned to participate in Yama Sakura," said Lieder. "The Red Bulls have participated in every major command post exercise offered to active components and we've been successful in every single evaluation."
December 8, 2015 by Master Sgt. Ashlee J. L. Sherrill
34th Infantry Division Public Affairs
Posted: 2017-03-24 10:19 AM CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - Every spring Camp Ripley begins its annual controlled burn program to help reduce the risk of wildfire during training.
"Usually the burns are completed every spring before the summer annual training season begins," said Tim Notch, training area coordinator on Camp Ripley. "However, the warmer weather conditions provide a nice opportunity for preventative burns earlier this season."
As in years past Camp Ripley will conduct controlled burns on approximately 13,000 acres of the 53,000-acre military reservation. The burns are done in coordination with the staffs of the Camp Ripley Department of Public Works and the Camp Ripley Environmental Department along with support from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Posted: 2017-03-23 09:46 AM DULUTH, Minn. - Pfc. Trevor Nelson received the Minnesota Distinguished Recruiting Ribbon and a Minnesota Recruiting and Retention Battalion medallion for excellence from Command Sgt. Maj. Curtis Serbus, March 18, 2017, at the Duluth Armory. Nelson earned these awards as part of the online referral system, Leads 2 Enlistment for referring four friends who have joined the Minnesota National Guard.
"I talked to some buddies in my school about the Guard. They liked the benefits, so I put their info in the app and let my recruiter take over." said Nelson. "I thought it would be fun to serve with friends and help them figure out their path in life."
Nelson is currently a senior at Cloquet Senior High School and assigned to the Recruit Sustainment Program in Duluth. He attended basic training at Fort Benning in the summer of 2016 with follow-on training in the summer of 2017 to become an infantryman.
Posted: 2017-03-10 08:50 AM 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.
Posted: 2017-03-08 03:29 PM 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.