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Minnesota National Guard
1/34 BCT opens sixth water plant with international presence

CAMP ADDER, Iraq " Children, officials, sheiks, Italians, Australians and US Soldiers were present for the opening of a reverse osmosis water-treatment plant in Al Kuaam, Iraq, a small rural farming village of 2,000 people on the south bank of the Euphrates River on Feb 18, 2006

"We all know how important clean water is to public health, agriculture, and economic development", said Lt Col Larry Herke, chief of staff for the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division "The water treatment plant is a great example of the Iraqi Government making progress to restore basic services to the people of Iraq," said Herke

The water purified by the plant is available to passersby through free faucets on site and distributed through out the village by water trucks for a fee

To put this in context, consider conditions before the plant opened: water was delivered from a neighboring city at the price near three US dollars for 45 gallons The average unskilled laborer in Al Kuaam earns about $30 a month Most families have at least eight members At the Red Cross's minimum recommended one gallon per person per day, a typical family's 240 gallon monthly water debt would cost more than half their total budget Unable to afford clean water, most families would draw water from the local rivers According to UNICEF, two million tons of raw sewage is released into Iraqi rivers each day Using contaminated water is one of the reasons why 80% of all patients at the local hospital suffer from water borne diseases

"The plant is capable of providing 20,000 liters of water an hour," said Capt Colin Fleming, deputy civil military operations officer for the 1/34 BCT

The 20,000 liters of water an hour is more than enough water for Al Kuaam The plant can now provide enough clean water for more than 150,000 people

The construction of the plant employed more than 45 local contractors and engineers funded by Coalition Forces through the 1/34 BCT Since unemployment in the area is a major cause of unrest, the workers and their family members are thankful for the jobs in addition to the safe water

The event was attended by Italian officials from the Provincial Reconstruction Team and Australian Soldiers of the Overwatch Battle Group West 2 Civil Military Cooperation team The Australian team attended to meet with local officials and work towards their own reconstruction projects in Dhi Qar province

Al Kuaam is located 70 miles west of An Nasariyah, the capital of Dhi Qar province in southeast Iraq

The Al Kuaam plant is the sixth of its kind opened during the deployment of the 1/34 BCT
The Minnesota National Guard 1/34 BCT includes Soldiers from Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, New Jersey, Georgia, and California plus several active-duty units

Spc Brian D Jesness
Feb 28, 2007
1/34th BCT Public Affairs


Feb 18, 1BCT Opens Sixth Water Plant photo gallery





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

Posted: 2017-06-23  02:56 PM
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.



Beyond NATO Commitments, MN State Partnership with Croatia Continues to Grow

Posted: 2017-06-22  10:25 AM
Saber Strike SPP PABRADE, Lithuania - Since 1996, the Minnesota National Guard and the Croatian Armed Forces have been partners in the National Guard's State Partnership Program. Beyond the bond of the NATO commitment, a mutual trust and unique bond has been forged amongst the warriors of each respective nation. From Camp Ripley to Karlovac, the soldiers have found a common cause of continuous improvement. Exercise after exercise, there has been a greater appreciation of one another's culture and customs.

You don't have to look to far to see this dynamic. When asked if he had ever worked with Minnesota National Guardsmen before, 1Lt Emanuel Hamer of the Croatian Armed Forces said, "This is my fourth time working with 2-136 "Bearcats," each time we grow closer and stronger. I feel like they are members of my unit. I'm glad I have this opportunity to learn new techniques and share some of our own with the Americans."



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

Posted: 2017-06-20  02:14 PM
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."



Minnesota Aviators complete successful eXportable Combat Training Capability exercise

Posted: 2017-06-20  08:30 AM
XCTC FORT HOOD, Texas - Soldiers from the Minnesota National Guard's 2-147th Assault Helicopter Battalion wrapped up support for an eXportable Combat Training Capability (XCTC) exercise at Fort Hood, Texas, recently. The unit was part of Task Force Ragnar, the exercise's aviation element, supporting the Tennessee National Guard's 278th Armored Calvary Regiment as they prepare for a rotation to the National Training Center in 2018.

"Our mission is to support a brigade element here," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 John Otremba, with the 2-147. "But I think our ultimate mission is to train for an austere environment which sets us up for success at NTC next year."

The task force conducted aviation support missions including air assault, sling load, deliberate attack, defensive positioning and key leader escorts. They also conducted aviation-specific training in personnel recovery, downed aircraft recovery, field maintenance and air traffic control operations.



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