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Minnesota National Guard
Movement complete, let the battle begin

1ABCT NTC FORT IRWIN, Calif. - With the sun setting on a Kuwait-esque landscape on the evening of June 5, 2016, the preparation phase of what has been the two-year training focus for the Soldiers of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, drew to an end.

With nearly 6,000 Soldiers on the ground at Fort Irwin, California, in addition to the transportation and staging of more than 1,500 pieces of equipment and countless pounds of gear, the Reception, Staging, Onward movement and Integration phase, or RSOI, has begun. This 5-day period in a contested environment will transition the 1/34th ABCT into the execution phase of its National Training Center rotation later this week.

The brigade first put boots-on-ground May 20, laying the groundwork to close the loop on the massive logistical operation assembling units and equipment from across the country.

"We've been preparing for this incredibly complex movement plan since we were notified of our rotation nearly two years ago," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 David Mellon, brigade mobility officer for the 1/34th ABCT. "We've invested countless hours, and enlisted the support of hundreds of Service members, to accomplish this feat."

Arriving in stages, 350 chartered bus movements and 90 flights brought Soldiers from muster formations across the nation to Fort Irwin, Mellon said.

Before the main body's arrival to the Rotational Unit Bivouac Area, or RUBA, Soldiers were hard at work receiving the nearly 500 railcars from around the U.S. Once the more than 300 wheeled vehicles, 350 tracked vehicles and 1,400 containers were received at the Yermo Railhead Annex at Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Soldiers began convoy operations down the Mannex Trail, a 30-mile trek through the Mojave Desert bridging the final leg of the journey to Fort Irwin.

"If lined up railcar-to-railcar, the trains would span nearly 11 miles long," said Mellon. "This, in addition to the nearly 1,500 pieces of equipment and vehicles that were drawn from NTC's prepositioned fleet - which greatly reduced shipping costs - allowed the brigade to reach its full combat power in a relatively short timeframe."

Although a major accomplishment has been made through the logistics of the brigade, Soldiers still face a long and grueling road ahead of them in the coming three weeks. Around the clock operations have been initiated and the RUBA is officially considered a contested environment by the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, the active duty brigade opposing the 1/34th ABCT.

June 8, 2016
by Sgt. William Boecker
1st Armored Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs



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