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Minnesota National Guard
Mission Complete: Bearcats Finish NATO Exercise in Lithuania's Suwalki Gap

Air Assault Saber Strike PABRADE, Lithuania - At the sound of 17 U.S. Army rotary wing aircraft humming through the air, Soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard's 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry, in addition to Service members of five NATO Allied countries, load onto Black Hawk, Chinook and Apache helicopters, at Kazlu Ruda airstrip during the Saber Strike exercise, June 17, 2017. The multinational effort came together to conduct an air and ground assault in the Suwalki Gap to demonstrate the nations' capability to respond to any hostile act of a potential adversary.

"You could tell on everyone's faces that this was go time," said Sgt. Derrick Bruestle, a team leader for 2-136th CAB, also known as the Bearcats. "It wasn't just a training exercise to them anymore, it was a serious mission with real implications on the real world."

The magnitude of the exercise set in as the first bird lifted off the airstrip and started moving toward the objective in a staggered formation. Saber Strike is a U.S. Army Europe-led NATO exercise meant to exhibit a strengthened partnership of the military assets of the NATO Alliance.

"For a National Guard unit to come out here and be in the spotlight is a big deal for us because we get to work with our foreign partners, engaging in the same mission and working together shoulder-to-shoulder for the betterment of the coalition," said Bruestle.

After arriving at the landing zone, the coalition force moved across numerous fields, ditches and dense forest, covering upwards of six kilometers through periods of pouring rain. The effort was set toward their objective where they would lay wait, uniforms saturated with water and the crisp evening air setting in a chilling factor, until dawn when they would attack through the opposition force.

"Despite spending a night in the woods, soaking wet, with almost no sleep, the Soldiers kept their morale up," said 1st Lt. Andrew T. Klein, the platoon leader of 2nd platoon, Bravo Co., 2-136 CAB.

With an early morning sunrise and fog-filled air, Klein's troops prepared for the ground assault alongside their multinational partners. Precisely at 7:00, assisted by British, Portuguese, Croatian and Lithuanian forces, the first shot was fired. Within 30 minutes the enemy had been over run and the objective was seized.

"Working with foreign allies and this level of integration is a once-in-a-career type of exercise for most of these men," stated Klein. "We hear about our NATO allies and other parts of the world on the news and this has given us a completely new perspective on how we all work together to form a stronger team."

Once seizing the objective, security was set up for a Forward Passage Of Lines to the Polish 15th Mechanized Brigade. The FPOL is a battle handoff conducted after securing a main supply route for the reinforcement of foreign troops to the northeast. Once completed, the 2-136th CAB and the rest of the Allies are able to declare mission complete.

"All I can say is that I hope that missions like this continue to come our way," said Bruestle. "The Minnesota National Guard is nothing to be taken lightly or underestimated. People recognize that and it's why we get these types of missions. The more they give us, the more we're going to shine; it's as simple as that."

June 23, 2017
by Sgt. William Boecker
1st Armored Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs



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Minnesota Aviators lead multi-state National Guard partnership for NTC rotation

Posted: 2018-05-21  03:51 PM
2-147 NTC FORT IRWIN, Calif. - The Minnesota National Guard's 2nd Battalion, 147th Assault Helicopter Battalion is working together with aviation units from four different states to provide support to the Tennessee-based 278th Armored Calvary Regiment during a rotation at National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California.

Making up Task Force Ragnar is Utah-based B Company, 1st Battalion, 211th Assault Reconnaissance Battalion; Nevada-based B Company, 1-189th General Support Aviation Battalion; Michigan-based C Company, 3-238th GSAB; and Minnesota-based A, D, E and Headquarters Companies, 2-147th AHB and F Company, 1-189th GSAB.

"Early coordination with the units across four states combined with exceptional unit leadership and motivated Soldiers helped us to quickly build the task force when we closed on Fort Irwin," said Lt. Col. Kevin O'Brien, Task Force Commander. "I was thoroughly impressed with the professionalism and teamwork of task force Soldiers. This was an outstanding training opportunity that challenged every Soldier to grow as individuals and units daily."



Deployed Minnesota Guardsman honors grandfather, Hmong heritage

Posted: 2018-05-17  09:57 AM
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Xiong, the eldest grandson of the late Col. Song Leng Xiong, is deployed in Kuwait as an information technician for Area Support Group - Kuwait.

"We were not nomadic, but have been in many different conflicts," said Xiong. "Many places I go, I am questioned about my nationality and when answered, end up being even more confused. There is a movie called, "Gran Torino", where Clint Eastwood is introduced to the Hmong culture and I think it portrays the Hmong people not so terribly."



Month of the Military Child recognizes contributions of military kids

Posted: 2018-04-07  01:54 PM
Minnesota National Guard FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 7, 2018

ST. PAUL, Minn.- The month of April is designated as the Month of the Military Child to recognize the contributions and sacrifices military children make so their family members can serve. An estimated 15,000 children in Minnesota have been affected by the deployment of a parent.

"Military children bear a lot while their family members serve," said Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard. "It is up to us to support these resilient kids and help to lessen their burden."

An event to honor military kids in Minnesota will take place April 13, 2018, at the Mall of America rotunda from 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Activities will include appearances by the Teddy Bear Band and meet and greets with Nickelodeon characters.



Forging a path to career success

Posted: 2018-03-16  08:45 AM
Col. Angela Steward-Randle ST. PAUL, Minn. - Col. Angela Steward-Randle grew up in a military family - her father served in the Army on active duty - but it was a chance encounter with a friend at college that led her to want to make the military a career.

"My story is no different than many others," Steward-Randle, the Director of Human Resources, Manpower and Personnel for the Minnesota National Guard said. "I was in college and looking for financial resources to help pay for it."

Her college friend suggested they attend a summer training with the Reserve Officer Training Corps that had no obligation and could earn them some money. The friend never ended up going, but Steward-Randle did. After earning recognition as the top honor graduate and receiving an offer of a scholarship, she was hooked.



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