| 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
Minnesota Guardsman recognized for cultural influence and leadership
Posted: 2016-05-19 09:08 AM
ST. PAUL, Minn. - For his work to promote diversity and build community relationships, Minnesota National Guard Warrant Officer Candidate Alan Lee received the Federal Asian Pacific American Council's Military Meritorious Service Award in Orlando, Fla., May 10, 2016. He was also recognized with a resolution in the Minnesota Senate and House of Representatives, May 18.
"To be selected as one out of 12 in the entire nation, I'm really honored," said Lee. "I'm still speechless about it, but I'm truly humbled for it. I don't even believe that I'm deserving of it, I just feel like I'm doing something for the community and for the National Guard."
Lee, whose parents were sponsored to come to America in 1980 as Laotian refugees in Thailand, was born in California and moved to Minnesota in 1990 to be with the rest of his large, extended family. Growing up, Lee heard stories about his grandfather and uncle serving in the Vietnam War which motivated him to want to serve as well. He enlisted at the age of 17 when he was a junior in high school.
Minnesota National Guard aviators respond to wildfires in northern Minnesota
Posted: 2016-05-18 09:21 AM
CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - Helicopter crews of the Minnesota National Guard joined firefighters May 6-9, 2016, in northern Minnesota to battle wildfires.
In response to requests made by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources through the Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Governor Mark Dayton authorized the use of four UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters and support personnel to assist in suppression of wildfires across the Iron Range in northern Minnesota.
"Our mission was to provide aviation support to the wildfire suppression missions which assisted the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources," said Maj. Jeremy Degier, aviation duty officer.
Planning and Execution: Keys to a Good Deployment
Posted: 2016-05-16 10:36 AM
DULUTH, Minn. - In early April 2016, the 148th Fighter Wing deployed approximately 300 Airmen and about a dozen F-16's to Osan Air Base, Korea as part of a Theater Security Package (TSP). TSP's have been an integral part of the U.S. Pacific Air Command's force posture since 2004. TSP deployments are routine and not due to any specific threat in the region and usually last three to four months. So, what does it take to make a deployment like this happen?
"From a Logistical Readiness Squadron (LRS) perspective, I would break a deployment into two phases; planning and execution," said Maj. Darin Phillips, 148th Fighter Wing Installation Deployment Officer.
During the planning phase personnel are trained according to the deployment reporting instructions of that theater, to include medical requirements and other personal qualifications. On the cargo side, Unit Deployment Managers (UDMs) and increment monitors work to build their cargo, so load plans can be submitted to get airlift for both equipment and personnel.
133rd Airlift Wing Welcomes New Commander
Posted: 2016-05-13 10:45 AM
ST. PAUL, Minn. - During a change of command ceremony, April 16, 2016, at the 133rd Airlift Wing's South Hangar, Col. Daniel E. Gabrielli took charge of the 133rd Airlift Wing from the outgoing commander, Col. James T. Johnson.
The military tradition of passing the unit guidon from the outgoing commander to the incoming commander was carried out with prestige by the presiding officer, Brig. Gen. David Hamlar, Minnesota National Guard Assistant Adjutant General - Air, with the assistance of Command Chief Master Sgt. Paul Kessler. Members of the wing, past and present, as well as friends and family filled the entire hangar to witness the event and to pass on well-wishes to both men.
"To all of you who make up the collective 133rd Airlift Wing, you are the heart and soul of the machine which accomplishes the mission on a day-to-day basis," said Gabrielli during his address to the Airmen. "My challenge to you all as well as myself, is to keep our focus simple. Be the best you can be and continually ask yourself - are you as ready as you can possibly be to execute your wartime mission?"