| Minnesota Soldiers enhance bases, safety for U.S. forces
CAMP ADDER, Iraq " The sands of southern Iraq are seeing new shapes on the horizon Construction is underway for "castles" built and manned by Red Bull Soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard's 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division
These castles are new Radio Relay Points built to consolidate US Army Soldiers and resources on to larger but fewer bases providing radio communications between Baghdad and the Iraq-Kuwait border in the south
"The goal was to close RRPs, and put up a bigger garrison environment to protect the Soldiers," said Maj Michael Lins, of Savage, Minn, the BCT's engineer
The concrete guard towers and more than 15-foot concrete walls prevent damage from all conventional attacks
Lins, the safety director and fleet manager for Gresser Companies Inc, Minnesota's largest masonry and concrete contractor, designed the new bases drawing inspiration from fortresses of the past
"They are very similar to how you would design a medieval castle," said Lins, a graduate of the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering
Lins worked with Soldiers of the old RRPs to incorporate modern and ancient fighting techniques into the layout of the base Similar to the use of catapults in the past, the structure features several fighting positions designed to drive a Humvee up into position to defend the base The positions allow Soldiers to fire a Humvee's turret- mounted fully automatic weapons over the high walls of the base
"The guys on the ground [at the RRPs] said, "˜how can we bring vehicles into the fight?'", said Lins
The 12 former RRPs featured impromptu wood structures and small dirt barriers for protection
The dismantling and transition of the old RRPs is being done by Soldiers from Minnesota's "Earthpigs", the Hutchinson, Minn,-based 682nd Engineer Battalion
"A lot of the guys are seeing the fruits of their labor," said engineer team leader Staff Sgt Charles Heldt of Waconia, Minn
"These guys are building the whole way through from start to finish," he said
In addition to enhanced protection, the new bases feature many upgraded amenities including living quarters and dining facilities in trailers rather than tents
"The new living conditions are 100 percent better, no bugs or dirt," said Heldt "The old dining facilities were in tents, now they are in hard stand buildings with tables and chairs,"
The new RRPs also provide greater emergency accommodations for Coalition Forces convoys traveling through southern Iraq In emergency situations the bases provide the availability of medics, lodging, fuel and mechanics
Capt Robert Metcalfe of Pequot Lakes, Minn, the assistant operations officer for the BCT's 1-34 Brigade Troops Battalion, said these new RRPS are great for convoys that have to pull off the main supply routes because of a variety of reasons that include dust storms
The building materials for the projects also are supported completely by local Iraqi contractors
"It's an Iraq first program," said Metcalfe "All contracts for the RRPs are with reputable businesses in the area"
The project of transitioning the old RRP network has also benefited Iraqi police and army units Three of the old bases have been turned over to Iraqi security forces to enhance their capabilities
The new bases have been a plan of the Army's for more than two years to improve the security and communications in southern Iraq
"Our Soldiers are benefiting from this, and the following rotations for the next couple of years will benefit," said Lins
Spc Brian D Jesness
1/34 BCT Public Affairs
1 May, 2007
May 1, Radio Relay Point photo gallery
Officers convene for 112th Meeting of the National Guard Association of Minnesota
Posted: 2017-04-28 12:38 PM
MANKATO, Minn. - Commissioned leaders of the Minnesota National Guard convened for the 112th General Conference of the National Guard Association of Minnesota at the Verizon Wireless Center and Hilton Garden Inn, Mankato, on April 22, 2017.
The annual gathering of association members - who serve as advocates for the needs of Soldiers, Airmen and their families - includes a business meeting, commanders march, formal dining event and transfer of responsibility to the chapter's new president.
The day's event began with a business meeting, which focused on the association's mission of educating and informing legislators on the issues facing the current and future role of the National Guard in serving Minnesota communities. The strategic planning meeting was attended by Minnesota National Guard Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Richard Nash, his staff and unit commanders.
Camp Ripley earns top environmental award
Posted: 2017-04-26 02:09 PM
CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - The Department of Defense announced that Camp Ripley was selected as the winner of the Secretary of Defense Environmental Award for Natural Resources Conservation, Large Installation.
The awards recognize individuals, teams and installations for their exceptional environmental achievements and innovative, cost-effective environmental practices.
"The winners' efforts strengthen the Department of Defense's position as a resourceful environmental steward, both at home and abroad, and demonstrate our continued commitment to fulfilling mission needs through advanced environmental practices and technologies," stated James A. MacStravic, performing the duties of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.
Minnesota Guardsman finds work with victims in the military and the local community rewarding
Posted: 2017-04-26 10:57 AM
COTTAGE GROVE, Minn. - Staff Sgt. Nicquie Neely has been working with victims of sexual assault for four years in the Minnesota National Guard and also volunteers as a victim advocate in the community. As a victim advocate, it's her job to believe and support victims through a difficult process that can often involve extensive medical care and legal proceedings.
"Ever since I joined the Guard and heard about the SHARP program and learned what a victim advocate was, I always wanted to be one," said Neely. "And then I learned that you had to be an E-6 to be in that position, so the minute I got promoted I asked my commander if I could go to the training."
Neely is a combat medic and the full-time training and administration NCO with Company C, 134th Brigade Support Battalion. In addition to military victim advocate training, Neely also attends regular training with the civilian organization she volunteers for - SOS Sexual Violence Services in Ramsey County.
Minnesota National Guard Remembers the Holocaust with Jewish Community Relations Council
Posted: 2017-04-24 10:43 AM
Washington - Members of the Minnesota National Guard and the Air Force Reserve traveled to Washington D.C. with the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (also known as the JCRC), to visit the Holocaust Museum, April 4, 2017, to honor the victims of the Holocaust. Also, traveling with this group were St. Paul and Minneapolis police officers along with students from various high schools around the state. For those in uniform that day, it was an opportunity to see, hear and experience the stories of victims and survivors of the Holocaust.
Each Service member who attended was asked to bring back a summary of their experience in the form of a presentation, professional discussion or briefing to their respective unit in order to help other Guard members better understand and remember that horrible event, to honor the courage of the victims and survivors, and to remain vigilant as members of the U.S. military.
"The honor and privilege of accompanying members of the Minnesota National Guard to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. met so many goals," said Steve Hunegs, the executive director of the JCRC. "I wanted to reinforce the importance of the commitment of the U.S. military to democracy. After all, it was the Allies that defeated Nazi Germany and ultimately put an end to the Holocaust."