| 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
Camp Ripley strikes first before wildfire season
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.
Minnesota Guardsman earns recognition through Leads 2 Enlistment program
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.
Litchfield and Local Veteran Honor Gen. John Vessey at Armory Open House
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.
Camp Ripley welcomes new command sergeant major
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.