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The wait is over; Minnesota Red Bulls enter "The Box"
FORT IRWIN, California - As the sun peaks the mountain tops on the final day of the Reception, Staging, Onward Movement and Integration phase for the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, nearly 6,000 Soldiers load gear, mount vehicles and await the call to move out of the Rotational Unit Bivouac Area, or RUBA, in Fort Irwin, California, June 10, 2016.
"The movement means the Brigade will be headed into an unfamiliar area where the opposition force has the distinct advantage of knowing the terrain very well and have had a chance to be acclimated to the heat," said Spc. Travis Pugh, a dismounted Infantryman for the 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 194th Armored Regiment. "We are entering their playground, so we have to be on our toes at all times and never get complacent."
"They" are the opposition force, or OPFOR, comprised of Soldiers from the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, an active duty unit dedicated to testing units in "The Box." Now, after two years of preparation, the 1/34th ABCT will enter the force-on-force maneuver phase of their National Training Center rotation, where the Red Bulls will finally square off against the 11th ACR "Blackhorse."
"Being prepared and having a quick distribution of information is key for our rotation at NTC." said Pugh. "At any time we have to be ready to move a whole battalion or even brigade element as quickly as possible so we can re-establish our foot print and bring the fight back to the OPFOR."
One of the larger tasks during RSOI was ensuring each piece of equipment has been checked, double-checked and staged with Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System, or MILES, gear installed and validated. Using lasers, sensors and blank cartridges, MILES simulates an actual battle to give Soldiers the most realistic training possible.
Also, Soldiers here get to train on systems that just aren't always available, said Pugh. While at Fort Irwin's Range 16, Pugh and other select Soldiers from around the Brigade participated in a live-fire exercise utilizing the Javelin - a Soldier-carried, fire-and-forget anti-tank missile used to disable vehicles with a single strike.
"We've come here to be able to leave better Soldiers than we came," said 1st Lt. Sean Bottin, executive officer for Alpha Company, 1-194 AR (CAB). "From the individual Soldier to team and squad, all the way up to the battalion and brigade level, we will improve and integrate our fighting and movement drills on a massive scale."
Along with the training opportunity comes the extended time away from families, Bottin said. It's not the easiest thing to be away from spouses, kids and family for as long as is expected.
In addition to the 1/34th ABCT Facebook page, which has provided loved ones back home a first-hand account of what their Soldiers are doing at Fort Irwin, Bottin said his family is connected with his unit's Family Readiness Group and Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Network. These two programs provide support to the families of those away from home by sharing information and providing support when needed.
June 13, 2016 by Sgt. William Boecker
1st Armored Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs
Posted: 2017-04-28 12:38 PM MANKATO, Minn. - Commissioned leaders of the Minnesota National Guard convened for the 112th General Conference of the National Guard Association of Minnesota at the Verizon Wireless Center and Hilton Garden Inn, Mankato, on April 22, 2017.
The annual gathering of association members - who serve as advocates for the needs of Soldiers, Airmen and their families - includes a business meeting, commanders march, formal dining event and transfer of responsibility to the chapter's new president.
The day's event began with a business meeting, which focused on the association's mission of educating and informing legislators on the issues facing the current and future role of the National Guard in serving Minnesota communities. The strategic planning meeting was attended by Minnesota National Guard Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Richard Nash, his staff and unit commanders.
Posted: 2017-04-26 02:09 PM CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - The Department of Defense announced that Camp Ripley was selected as the winner of the Secretary of Defense Environmental Award for Natural Resources Conservation, Large Installation.
The awards recognize individuals, teams and installations for their exceptional environmental achievements and innovative, cost-effective environmental practices.
"The winners' efforts strengthen the Department of Defense's position as a resourceful environmental steward, both at home and abroad, and demonstrate our continued commitment to fulfilling mission needs through advanced environmental practices and technologies," stated James A. MacStravic, performing the duties of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.
Posted: 2017-04-26 10:57 AM COTTAGE GROVE, Minn. - Staff Sgt. Nicquie Neely has been working with victims of sexual assault for four years in the Minnesota National Guard and also volunteers as a victim advocate in the community. As a victim advocate, it's her job to believe and support victims through a difficult process that can often involve extensive medical care and legal proceedings.
"Ever since I joined the Guard and heard about the SHARP program and learned what a victim advocate was, I always wanted to be one," said Neely. "And then I learned that you had to be an E-6 to be in that position, so the minute I got promoted I asked my commander if I could go to the training."
Neely is a combat medic and the full-time training and administration NCO with Company C, 134th Brigade Support Battalion. In addition to military victim advocate training, Neely also attends regular training with the civilian organization she volunteers for - SOS Sexual Violence Services in Ramsey County.
Posted: 2017-04-24 10:43 AM Washington - Members of the Minnesota National Guard and the Air Force Reserve traveled to Washington D.C. with the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (also known as the JCRC), to visit the Holocaust Museum, April 4, 2017, to honor the victims of the Holocaust. Also, traveling with this group were St. Paul and Minneapolis police officers along with students from various high schools around the state. For those in uniform that day, it was an opportunity to see, hear and experience the stories of victims and survivors of the Holocaust.
Each Service member who attended was asked to bring back a summary of their experience in the form of a presentation, professional discussion or briefing to their respective unit in order to help other Guard members better understand and remember that horrible event, to honor the courage of the victims and survivors, and to remain vigilant as members of the U.S. military.
"The honor and privilege of accompanying members of the Minnesota National Guard to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. met so many goals," said Steve Hunegs, the executive director of the JCRC. "I wanted to reinforce the importance of the commitment of the U.S. military to democracy. After all, it was the Allies that defeated Nazi Germany and ultimately put an end to the Holocaust."