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Senior enlisted conference offers Red Bulls opportunity to network, develop
CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - Nearly 150 Soldiers and Airmen gathered as enlisted leaders at Camp Ripley to discuss issues important to the non-commissioned officer corps in the Minnesota National Guard, providing an opportunity for Red Bull leaders to network and develop their leadership skills.
The Joint Senior Enlisted Leader Conference is open to all Minnesota National Guard senior enlisted leaders, both Army and Air Guard. It provides a chance for senior enlisted leaders to meet with their peers, share ideas and develop the NCO corps for future generations.
"This conference is one of the few opportunities for us to come together to gain a shared understanding of our roles as senior enlisted leaders," said 34th Red Bull Infantry Division Command Sgt. Maj. John Lepowsky. "One of the biggest challenges that any National Guard leader faces is the time commitment it takes in order to be a good leader. Having this opportunity to talk about and discuss issues affecting both Army and Air Guard NCOs is invaluable."
Attendees agree. Command Sgt. Maj. Stephen Whitehead with the 1st Battalion, 125th Field Artillery said he appreciated having the opportunity to hear from other leaders about their challenges. Often times, other leaders will be experiencing the same issues within their units, but they may not know it because there isn't always a chance to talk to peers; they are the top of the chain within our units.
"One shared challenge we discussed was the limited amount of time we have with our Soldiers," said Whitehead, a Rosemount, Minn., native. "There are so many priorities and things we need to get done at drill. It's tough to balance it all.
"We've come up with different approaches to this issue. One way we can help juggle all of the priorities is through monthly phone calls prior to drill. When we're on the call, we can get our leaders on the same page so at drill things run smoothly. We also talked about establishing expectations for our new, younger leaders. We need to make sure they are aware of the need to juggle priorities so that it's not a shock to them when they step into a leadership role."
"This conference serves as a great reminder that there are several parts to leadership," said newly-promoted Company C, 834th Aviation Support Battalion 1st Sgt. Ricky Mathison, a Monticello, Minn., native. "It's helpful to hear the variety of topics from both Army and Air Force perspectives. I can take a broader leadership approach back to my Soldiers and the unit.
"I really enjoyed hearing the keynote speaker," Mathison said. "He provided some helpful practices, approaches and information that we all can take back to our units."
The key note speaker, Mr. Jerry Perez from the Profession of Arms Center of Excellence, spoke of commitment and encouraged attendees to evaluate why they were where they were and asked them how they inspire that same commitment in their Soldiers and Airmen.
"There's always room for improvement," Perez said. "If you say that you're already the best you can be, you've already failed. Professionalism is the art of leading yourself. It's what brings together values and the mission." He encouraged leaders to never sacrifice their values in order to complete their mission.
The two-day seminar also included lectures and discussion on resilience and readiness, blended retirements, boarding processes, the Global Combat Support System, and other relevant topics. The state Senior Enlisted Advisor, Command Sgt. Maj. Doug Wortham, oversees the program development along with the Senior Enlisted Management Board which assists and recommends topics to cover during each year's conference.
The Army National Guard has been conducting the conference annually for nearly a decade; the conference was extended to also include the Air National Guard since 2013.
January 31, 2017 by Master Sgt. Ashlee Sherrill
34th Red Bull Infantry Division 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.