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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: 2017-03-24 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.