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Minnesota National Guard
CERFP exercise tests Guardsmen, new evaluation team

evaluators DULUTH, Minn. - Minnesota National Guard members serving in a variety of roles tested their skills as evaluators and domestic response assets during a Combined Training Exercise simulating a chemical explosion in the harbors of Duluth from June 3 to June 9, 2017.

The exercise was the first time in nearly four years that the specialized 55th Civil Support Team - which would respond to a Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) threat before any other Minnesota National Guard unit - worked in conjunction with the 84th Troop Command's CBRN Enhanced Response Force Package. In practice, the CST would provide the initial response and hand the mission off to the CERFP, which is capable of mass decontamination and casualty support as well search and recovery expertise in the event of collapsed or damaged structures.

And as crews of CERFP Soldiers donned protective gear, established decontamination lanes and prepared for swells of simulated victims seeking medical attention, a few select Soldiers quietly observed it all.

Headed by Capt. Luke Braun, officer-in-charge of the newly-formed External Evaluation Team, a six-person team observed each training scenario to ensure tasks were being executed to standard. If the evaluation team is successful in ensuring units are training properly, it could ultimately reduce the time Soldiers spend away from their loved ones.

"My team allows the Minnesota National Guard to evaluate itself, as opposed to calling on First Army to receive our validations," said Braun. "We offer a complete training package, letting commanders know what we see and what we can provide for them to satisfy 'Objective T' requirements."

"Objective T" was adopted in 2016 by the Minnesota National Guard, which transitioned the organization to a new method for reporting the training readiness of its units by providing a more objective assessment of a unit's training status and preparedness for mobilization.

"We provide many products, such as an executive summary and formal After Action Review to the commander, while also helping to fill out and submit forms for the units to satisfy 'Objective T' requirements," said Braun. "Ultimately it helps improve training proficiency, and ensures there are no peaks and valleys in a unit's level of readiness."

And perhaps the greatest benefit of all - especially with an increase in training days seen throughout the force, especially in brigade combat teams - training validation done by Minnesota National Guard Soldiers at Minnesota National Guard facilities means Soldiers would spend less time away from their families.

"Our initial work here leads up to evaluating the 347th Regional Support Group's Combat Support Training Exercise in August," said Braun. "Validation at home-station training shortens the time they will spend at their mobilization station."

Eventually the evaluation team will support eXportable Combat Training Capabilities validation, which is a requirement for brigade combat teams preparing for their "ready year," the year in a four-year cycle in which they could be called upon to deploy.

"I see this as a good thing, seeing the way the state can use us in the future as evaluators," said 1st Lt. Ellyn Emde, a collective training liaison officer on Braun's team. "This was our first experience as Observer Coach Trainers, and we're using the experience to see where we can improve going into the next one."

June 8, 2017
by Staff Sgt. Patrick Loch
Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs



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Iowa Red Bull takes command of 34th Infantry Division

Posted: 2017-12-13  10:11 AM
Minnesota National Guard JOHNSTON, Iowa - Brig. Gen. Benjamin J. Corell, Deputy Adjutant General of the Iowa National Guard, assumed command of the 34th Infantry Division "Red Bulls" during a ceremony in Rosemount, Minnesota, on December 9, 2017.

Headquartered in Minnesota, the division has been commanded almost-exclusively by members of the Minnesota National Guard since 1968.

"Typically there's been very few people who have been allowed to command the 34th Infantry Division that didn't come from the state of Minnesota," Corell said.



Minnesota-based aviation unit honors storied division, enters into new, 'expeditionary' era

Posted: 2017-12-12  11:29 AM
Minnesota National Guard ST. PAUL, Minn. - Soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard's 34th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade (ECAB), who recently celebrated a year full of achievements, have embraced a new name: Red Devils.

The St. Paul-based unit hosted its annual aviation brigade ball Dec. 9, at the Envision Event Center in Oakdale, Minnesota, where the unit's new logo was unveiled.

Soldiers of the 34th ECAB, which falls under and supports the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, will continue to wear the Red Bull insignia on their uniforms. However, they will now be known and referred to as the Red Devils, a name that pays homage to the division's historical accomplishments and fierce warfighting.



Minnesota Nice Extends to Puerto Rico

Posted: 2017-12-08  12:08 PM
Minnesota National Guard CAMP SANTIAGO, Puerto Rico - It has been more than two months since Hurricane Maria stuck Puerto Rico, leaving a trail of disaster behind it. The island was in dire need of some extra help. More than 230 Air National Guardsmen from 29 states have been deployed to the island and are helping in any way they can.

Eleven of those Airmen are from the Minnesota National Guard's 148th Fighter Wing out of Duluth, Minn. and the 133rd Airlift Wing out of St. Paul, Minn., are no exception in their desire to lend a helping hand. They have been at Camp Santiago, Puerto Rico, since before Thanksgiving and will leave around mid-December. Their mission is to feed military and civilian hurricane relief workers, giving them the much-needed fuel to complete their mission throughout the day.



Governor Mark Dayton installs new Minnesota National Guard Adjutant General

Posted: 2017-11-04  04:16 PM
TAG installation ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton administered the oath of office to Maj. Gen. Jon A. Jensen, installing him as the Minnesota National Guard's 31st Adjutant General during a ceremony in St. Paul, November 4, 2017.

"General Jensen has been a tremendous leader of the Minnesota National Guard throughout his years of dedicated service," said Governor Dayton. "He has served in two top leadership positions, as the Commanding General of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, and also as the Chief of Staff at the Guard's Joint Force Headquarters. I am confident that he will continue to provide the same outstanding leadership as his predecessor, General Rick Nash."

Jensen most recently served as the Commanding General of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division. He previously held positions as Deputy Commanding General, United States Army Africa and Southern European Task Force, Minnesota National Guard Director of the Joint Staff and Minnesota National Guard Assistant Adjutant General - Army.



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