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Minnesota National Guard
Minnesota National Guard prepares its largest ever deployment

The head of Minnesota National Guard says the state's largest troop deployment since World War II will take place next year More than 2,000 Minnesota citizen Soldiers will ship out to the Persian Gulf with most headed for Iraq Since the 9-11 attacks and ensuing war on terrorism, more than 3,200 Minnesota Army National Guard Soldiers have been called up for full-time service Almost 2/3rds of the troops ended up in Iraq Others have taken up duties in countries from Afghanistan to Honduras and at US military bases, and airports here at home Guard troops say Department of Defense efforts to keep them better informed and to provide more support for their families, are helping to ease the strain of their war-time service
St Paul, Minn - Until this year, much of the news from the Minnesota National Guard was about part-time troops being called up for full-time duty At ceremonies throughout Minnesota politicians wished citizen Soldiers well as they parted with their families and friends, many of them headed for combat zones

In recent months some of the same armories and airports where tearful good-byes were said in 2002, 2003 and 2004, have been places of jubilant homecomings

But soon the armories will once again be sending off Soldiers Right now, 2700 Minnesota National Guard Troops are on alert, awaiting orders

Minnesota National Guard commander Major General Larry Shellito says those orders will come in what he'll describe only as the "near term" He says the troops will deploy next year

"'05 is kind of a lot of people coming back home but shortly here we'll be having a lot of ceremonies deploying a lot more Soldiers," Shellito says, "In fact it will be our largest deployment yet"

General Shellito says the Soldiers will be all be supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom Some will be in places such as Kuwait, but Shellito says most will end up in Iraq He says it will be the first combat-zone experience for almost all of the troops

"The vast majority will have either been in Bosnia or Kosovo if they're been anywhere," Shellito says, "Keep in mind, we've recruiting a significant number of new Soldiers also so for a good number of them also it will be first-timers"

The troops on alert now have known about the upcoming deployment for weeks and likely will not be in Iraq for months That's a lot more time to make arrangements for leaving home than was given the first wave of Minnesota Guard troops sent to Iraq

"I got called up at 4:00 on, I think it was a Tuesday evening, and had to report the next morning," says Dan Henry who's a 1st Sgt with the Minnesota Army National Guard "That's how much notice we got"

In his civilian life Henry is in charge of maintaining the facilities at Cathedral High School in St Cloud He remembers well the afternoon more than 2 1/2 years ago when he learned he would become a full-time Soldier in the war on terrorism starting immediately Less than a week after getting the call up order, Henry and nearly 140 other members of 142nd engineering battalion were on their way to Colorado and then off to Iraq

"I look back on it now and it doesn't seem possible but we made it happen," Says Henry "And you know there was a lot of families that were in the same situation"

And addition to getting himself ready, Henry had to help make arrangements for two of his daughters who were also deployed with him

Since the 142nd was sent to Iraq, many more Minnesota troops have followed In all, nearly 2000 part time Minnesota Soldiers, which is almost 10 percent of the state's Army National Guard force Three Minnesota Guard members have been killed in Iraq

Henry will soon retire from the Guard, making another deployment unlikely for him He says for other guard Soldiers, the uncertainty about deployments is difficult but something he says the military is trying to address

"I met with Senator Coleman and General Shellito from the State of Minnesota shortly after I go back," Henry says "And that's one thing that the Guard is doing is they're asking these troops that are coming back what concerns they have and that's what I brought up is that I think with the National Guard we need more parameters of exactly what we can expect -- how often we might be deployed, for what the length of the deployments are those type of questions and they're getting us some answers I think that it's finally starting to work through and they are trying to address some of those issues"

Back at headquarters General Shellito says it's in the Guard's best interest to get straight forward deployment information to troops as early as possible

"What's happening is they are trying to answer the most common complaint that initially occurred and that was predictability," Shellito says "We're working very, very hard to predict and as soon as we know something both on a national and a state level, we get that information out as quickly as possible We just have to be careful that, you know, it's not rumor but that it is based on solid, best known facts at that time"

Guard call-up policy is complicated and the Department of Defense can change the rules at will Generally troops are required to complete up to 24 months of deployment for every five years of service If they're needed beyond that, they're asked to volunteer for missions If not enough Soldiers with the required skills step forward, they can be ordered to service

Shellito says far the voluntary mechanism has been working well and he doesn't foresee having to increase mandatory deployments

"I don't anticipate that at all In fact as we've met, and I talked to the commanders, and really without exception they are impressed with the responses they have received from the Soldiers stepping forward to go," Shellito says

Soon Tom Murray, who works for the University of Minnesota's Office of Information Technology, says he'll be shipping out to Iraq for what he expects will be an 18-month deployment He's been in the Guard for 9 years and has volunteered for numerous missions Preparing to leave now, he says, is much easier than it used to be

"I think it's changed a lot," Murray says "They have given us for instance maybe a three or four-year timeline that you know these opportunities are coming up They don't necessarily say it's going to be from this time to this time but they say okay well we're in the grab bag and if they pick our number then we're it"

Murray also says there is a lot more support now for the families of Soldiers sent away, everything from counseling to help with basics such as home repair

For decades Minnesota National Guard troops had no expectation of being sent into war zones Officials say they now tell recruits to count on deployments And, despite that, Minnesota continues to lead the in nation in Guard recruiting

by Mark Zdechlik, Minnesota Public Radio




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Fourteen Soldiers. Twelve States. One Competition.

Posted: 2017-07-16  09:45 PM
ARNG BWC One Soldier (junior enlisted) and one NCO (non-commissioned officer) will emerge at the top at the Army National Guard's Best Warrior Competition held at Camp Ripley, Minn., July 17-20, 2017, and move on to represent the Guard in the All-Army Best Warrior Competition in October.

The competitors have been conducting last-minute training since July 12 at Camp Ripley by honing their skills on various weapons, maintaining their physical strength and endurance, and reviewing military tasks.

"I'm feeling very confident," said Cpl. Joseph Garback, a cannon crewmember with B Co., 1st Battalion, 114th Infantry, 50th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, New Jersey National Guard. He's been preparing with the other Region 1 competition winner, Sgt. Zachary Scuncio. Garback says he has really liked the hands-on preparation at Camp Ripley and believes he's had an ample amount of time to prepare.



Minnesota-based Combat Aviation Unit Soars into Battle Phase of Bilateral Training Exercise

Posted: 2017-07-16  09:52 AM
34th CAB CAMP ATTERBURY, Indiana - More than 140 Soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard's 34th Combat Aviation Brigade have established a presence at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, where they are supporting and engaging in high-level military operations and synchronization training.

Members of the St. Paul, Minnesota-based aviation unit, which is adept at providing a wide spectrum of aviation support, recently dove into the battle phase of the bilateral training exercise Talisman Saber 17. Throughout the exercise, much of their training will focus on air-ground integration -- or synchronizing aviation operations into the scheme of maneuver planned and conducted by forces on the ground.



Camp Ripley to host National Guard Best Warrior Competition

Posted: 2017-07-10  10:50 AM
Minnesota National Guard FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 10, 2017

CAMP RIPLEY, Minn.- Fourteen soldiers from 12 states, representing seven Army National Guard regions will compete July 17-20 at Camp Ripley in the Army National Guard's
Best Warrior Competition.

"This competition will test the soldiers' ability to perform tasks that are vital to our ability to fight and win our nation's wars," said Command Sgt. Maj. Douglas Wortham, senior enlisted advisor for the Minnesota National Guard. "We will push them to their limits to test their endurance, strength and resilience - qualities that our soldiers must possess to be successful."

The four-day competition will feature several events to test the soldiers both physically and mentally. The soldiers will demonstrate their proficiency with weapons, their physical strength and endurance, their ability to perform military tasks and their ability to put their knowledge to use under pressure.



National Guard Best Warriors to compete in road march around Lake Itasca

Posted: 2017-07-07  09:18 AM
Minnesota National Guard FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 7, 2017

PARK RAPIDS, Minn.- Fourteen National Guard Soldiers from 12 states will be competing July 17-20, at Camp Ripley in the Army National Guard Best Warrior Competition. As part of the competition, the soldiers will complete a road march around Lake Itasca the morning of July 20, ending at the Mary Gibbs Mississippi Headwaters Center.

Members of the local media and the public are invited to cheer on the soldiers as they finish the road march. Well-wishers can come to the Mary Gibbs Welcome Center, 36750 Main Park Drive, Park Rapids, MN, 56470, on Thursday, July 20, at 8:00 a.m. and are encouraged to bring signs or flags to line the route to the finish line.

The soldiers will be marching on public and private land around Lake Itasca. Wilderness Trail will be temporary closed for a portion of the event. The march route will pass by the Pine Ridge Campground and may be visible to campers there.



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