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Minnesota National Guard
7 Nations, 4 Branches, 1 Mission; Saber Strike '17

Saber Strike 17 PABRADE, Lithuania - As the sun begins to set on the Lithuanian countryside, the final touches are put on the camouflage netting designed to break the silhouette and conceal the position of the Tactical Action Center, or TAC, of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division on June 17, 2017. As part of the multinational exercise of Saber Strike '17, the 1/34th ABCT is providing support to the Air Assault Task Force Commander, Col. Charles Kemper.

As the first ever combined air and ground assault in the annual Saber Strike exercise, this year's exercise has set a milestone in testing the compatibility of seven nations and all military branches.

"We want to reassure all of our NATO Allies that we are in this together," said Kemper. "We're part of the team and we can demonstrate capability."

Kemper also stated that the U.S. is beyond just assurance; we've moved to deterrence. We are going to deter anyone who poses a threat to our NATO Allies and demonstrate our capability to let them know that we are an alliance that is going to stand ready with our partners.

"This exercise is designed to build and increase the interoperability of all NATO contributing countries allowing us to boost our capability to react quickly to any world threat that occurs," said Capt. Josip Jurjevich, a Croatian Air Force helicopter pilot attached to the 1/34th ABCT Aviation element.

Throughout the planning process, American Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen worked side-by-side with service members from the United Kingdom, Poland, Croatia, Lithuania and Portugal, testing their ability to work together as one cohesive unit and ultimately forming a NATO enhanced Forward Presence, or eFP, Battle Group.

A challenge that takes time to overcome is the fact that you are taking people from different sides of the world to work together on the same mission when they don't have the same ways or customs of doing things, said Jurjevich. Saber Strike is a great opportunity for all participating nations and units to gauge where they are in regards to working as a cohesive unit.

During the planning process, the U.S. aviation planner implemented input from the two Croatian pilots attached to the TAC to plan helicopter air corridors from the Pickup Zone to the Landing Zone. Their counterpart took their input into consideration and implemented it into the overall mission.

"Even if something is better than our process, that is great, we've learned something, or if it's not, then we can bring something forward for them to learn," said Jurjevich.

With all seven nations converging at the Kazlu Ruda airstrip, the newly-formed Task Force Red Bull conducted an air mission brief and a combined arms rehearsal. These two briefings are held to work out the final details of the air and ground force to ensure all nations and their assets are marching to the same drum.

Improving overall coordination and professional relationships with Allies and partner militaries during this exercise has become a focal point for all those involved. A strong foundation of trust is crucial when forming a relationship with members of the NATO alliance.

Tight living quarters shorten the period of time it takes to become comfortable with one another, said 1st Lt. Josip Perich, another Croatian Air Force helicopter pilot attached to the 1/34th ABCT. "With 18 of us crammed into only two trucks working together on the mission, we are able to develop trust and confidence in one another very quickly."

A pre-established relationship between nations through exercises like Saber Strike is meant to lay footwork for a long-lasting rapport with all of our fellow NATO Allies.

"We were like a family in two small trucks, working together, sweating together for the same collective mission," said Perich.

June 20, 2017
by Sgt. William Boecker
1st Armored Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs



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National Guard Soldiers advance to all-Army Best Warrior Competition

Posted: 2017-07-22  11:02 AM
ARNG BWC CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - Fourteen of the Army National Guard's most elite Soldiers gathered on Camp Ripley Training Center in central Minnesota July 17-20 to determine who would compete in the all-Army Best Warrior Competition later this year.

Although every Soldier gave it their all, only one noncommissioned officer and one enlisted Soldier would claim the title of Army National Guard Best Warrior. The room was tense as everyone awaited the results during the final awards ceremony.

"We told you we were going to do everything but break you," said Command Sgt. Maj. Doug Wortham, the Minnesota National Guard Senior Enlisted Advisor. He summarized the four days explaining how the competitors all came from their respective states as individual competitors and through the competition ended up as comrades. "You were stressed, you were challenged. You guys did a fantastic job... But, the devil's in the details."



Fourteen Soldiers. Twelve States. One Competition.

Posted: 2017-07-16  09:45 PM
ARNG BWC One Soldier (junior enlisted) and one NCO (non-commissioned officer) will emerge at the top at the Army National Guard's Best Warrior Competition held at Camp Ripley, Minn., July 17-20, 2017, and move on to represent the Guard in the All-Army Best Warrior Competition in October.

The competitors have been conducting last-minute training since July 12 at Camp Ripley by honing their skills on various weapons, maintaining their physical strength and endurance, and reviewing military tasks.

"I'm feeling very confident," said Cpl. Joseph Garback, a cannon crewmember with B Co., 1st Battalion, 114th Infantry, 50th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, New Jersey National Guard. He's been preparing with the other Region 1 competition winner, Sgt. Zachary Scuncio. Garback says he has really liked the hands-on preparation at Camp Ripley and believes he's had an ample amount of time to prepare.



Minnesota-based Combat Aviation Unit Soars into Battle Phase of Bilateral Training Exercise

Posted: 2017-07-16  09:52 AM
34th CAB CAMP ATTERBURY, Indiana - More than 140 Soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard's 34th Combat Aviation Brigade have established a presence at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, where they are supporting and engaging in high-level military operations and synchronization training.

Members of the St. Paul, Minnesota-based aviation unit, which is adept at providing a wide spectrum of aviation support, recently dove into the battle phase of the bilateral training exercise Talisman Saber 17. Throughout the exercise, much of their training will focus on air-ground integration -- or synchronizing aviation operations into the scheme of maneuver planned and conducted by forces on the ground.



Camp Ripley to host National Guard Best Warrior Competition

Posted: 2017-07-10  10:50 AM
Minnesota National Guard FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 10, 2017

CAMP RIPLEY, Minn.- Fourteen soldiers from 12 states, representing seven Army National Guard regions will compete July 17-20 at Camp Ripley in the Army National Guard's
Best Warrior Competition.

"This competition will test the soldiers' ability to perform tasks that are vital to our ability to fight and win our nation's wars," said Command Sgt. Maj. Douglas Wortham, senior enlisted advisor for the Minnesota National Guard. "We will push them to their limits to test their endurance, strength and resilience - qualities that our soldiers must possess to be successful."

The four-day competition will feature several events to test the soldiers both physically and mentally. The soldiers will demonstrate their proficiency with weapons, their physical strength and endurance, their ability to perform military tasks and their ability to put their knowledge to use under pressure.



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