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Minnesota National Guard
Sleepy Eye troops serving in Iraq

In the field - The first in a new series of monthly reports from Sleepy Eye troops serving in Iraq Sleepy Eye Herald-Dispatch, 9/28/06
The 1-125 Strike battalion: who are they?

During a mission in Iraq, many levels of support are created for all missions to be a success For the 34th Infantry Division (Red Bulls) this proves strong and true throughout Operation Iraqi Freedom The 1-125 Strike battalion (headquartered in New Ulm) is no exception The 125th is currently stationed at Convoy Support Center (CSC) Scania, and will remain for approximately one year The Sleepy Eye area has a direct effect on the 125th and 34th, past and present

What do they do?

The 125th is an elite Field Artillery battalion, based around southern Minnesota As the battlefield changes, the 125th has needed to "adjust fire" in the new mission at hand The change was transformed by the motivation of the Soldiers and extensive training prior to entering theater of Iraq For most Soldiers, a new job was vital to fill these levels in the struggle for a successful mission These Soldiers meet new challenges first hand daily Fractions of a second require a decision with an indefinite outcome Every action is rehearsed and revamped many times before entering the battlefield The Soldiers are provided with the best equipment and training, providing all means to be successful in Iraq Never is any situation ever as it was rehearsed, but every Soldier needs to react without hesitation Due to the fighting conditions in Iraq, many times a junior leader is put in task to make these decisions At times this Soldier may not be old enough to legally drink, yet this troop makes a just decision and leads the way All training standards are to prepare troops for their first 30 days in theater After those first 30 days, Soldiers will have learned the skills needed to perform their duties

What about the folks back home?

Everyone back home provides "cover" while the Soldier carries out his or her mission The world does not stop due to a deployment Employers need to replace positions of the Soldier for a short period of time Parents take the role of being mother and father Spouses cover their fear with the pride of knowing what their loved one is doing Relationships are put on hold or ended due to the length of each deployment At times the difficulty of distance overcomes love Sometimes a Soldier gives up more then he or she anticipated With all the technology of communication, calling home is easier than in the past Soldiers are asked to not only keep their concentration on the mission, but also relations back home Communications are set up through telephone and Internet Letters and pictures replace special occasions which a Soldier will miss during his or her absence Operation Minnesota Nice was formed by people adopting a troop serving overseas Certain necessities that a Soldier may have trouble finding are sent once a month by these caring and proud people

What are the Soldiers' quarters like?

Most Soldiers occupy their own space of six feet by six feet, an area sometimes shared by two people To lessen the burden, each Soldier makes his or her area a little piece of home Pictures from home are displayed with pride Half-finished replies from letters written by school children, church groups, and local support organizations are found on each Soldier's note pad How a troop sets up his or her area is left only to the imagination of the troop Each person is given a bed and a wall locker From there we trade, build or scavenge supplies to improve our area Plywood and two-by-fours become trading goods An advantage for the National Guard is that every Soldier has the skills from his or her occupation back home, making carpenters a hot commodity A popular trend is to loft one's bunk to maximize space in an area Strung all along an individual's area you will find sheets, ponchos and similar dividers to provide some privacy Troops tend to acquire supplies and then pass them along the line Personally, my knowledge and access to welding equipment increases flexibility for building, depending on the materials For example, card tables can be produced from just about any piece of equipment

How often do the Soldiers get leave?

The current standard in combat is around 15 days for a year of service At this time all Soldiers are released to return home or get a vacation In this short period, birthdays, anniversaries and all other holidays are often celebrated It allows a Soldier to relax and remember what life looks, acts and feels like For myself, I vow the only battle I will acquire while I am home is on a lake (frozen or not)

What is the environment like?

When we first entered Iraq, the first reality was definitely the weather We must learn to carry out everyday missions with temperatures we are not accustomed to Due to new standards in the government, we are required to wear extra personnel armor and war fighting equipment An average Soldier carries 60 to 80 pounds of extra body armor, medical supplies, and vision equipment during every movement This is all in addition to carrying a weapon and its ammunition The heat plays a large factor in this extra equipment and clothing Not having this equipment is punishable by military justice This protection has well proven its durability in many cases on both the Soldier and all equipment

What are "battle buddies"?

Sometimes Soldiers become friends, not knowing each other's values as each individual Many times these people would scowl if they ever met in the real world, but in the military become friends, aka Battle Buddies As problems occur, we need to stick by our fellow troops; problems at home affect the lives of others in combat Stress becomes a major factor between both sides As this first article was written, the entire 34th reached the halfway point in its deployment Over these past six months in-country we have accomplished many goals We have also lost loved ones and brothers who have served beside us For those who gave the ultimate sacrifice we acknowledge their departure and remember them as we continue the struggle in all we believe and serve

By Spc Jeremy Reinarts, special to the Sleepy Eye Herald-Dispatch

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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.

Minnesota Guardsman Receives Award for Combating Drugs in his Community

Posted: 2018-03-09  03:13 PM
Counterdrug WOODBURY, Minn. - Staff Sgt. Benjamin Kroll, an analyst with the Minnesota National Guard's Counterdrug Task Force who is assigned to work with the Hennepin County Sherriff's Office was recognized for his achievements as the Analyst of the Year during the 2018 Minnesota Association of Crime and Intelligence Analysts Training Symposium in Woodbury, Minnesota, March 7, 2018.

Through a partnership with Minnesota law enforcement agencies throughout the state, the Minnesota National Guard Counterdrug Task Force (MNCDTF) supports the anti-drug initiatives to counter all primary drug threats and vulnerabilities through the effective application of available assets, said Maj. Jon Dotterer, Counterdrug Coordinator for the State of Minnesota. The goal for the program is to support federal, state, tribal, and local agencies in the detection, disruption, interdiction, and curtailment of illicit drugs.

Kroll is one of sixteen service members on the Counterdrug Task Force that provides this force-multiplying service to our communities against illicit drug-use. With the information that law enforcement provide through their patrols and daily operations, Kroll and his colleagues across the state assist by putting together a figurative picture with all of the gathered information which aids in identifying how to move forward with legal action to deter or prevent the sale or use of illegal narcotic drugs.

Women Opened Doors in Minnesota National Guard

Posted: 2018-03-08  09:05 AM
Minnesota National Guard ST. PAUL, Minn. - "The battlefront is no place for women to be," said Command Sgt. Maj. Earl Kurtzweg, 125th Field Artillery, in an article published in 1976. "There are certain jobs girls say they can do, but they just can't do ... the battlefront is no place for women to be. Other countries in the world use women in combat, but the U.S. has not come around to that way of thinking." Kathy Berg, a New Ulm reporter summarized at the time. "So women in the New Ulm unit take care of personnel files and pay records and leave the fighting to the men."

The Minnesota National Guard has "come around to that way of thinking" since those early days of gender integration. In the last 44 years women have made momentous strides toward inclusion and acceptance. Their accomplishments are testimony to their fortitude and the progressive development of the Minnesota National Guard.

When an accomplished female Soldier is credited with breaking barriers she will often pass that honor to the women that preceded her. Brig. Gen. Johanna Clyborne is such a leader. She acknowledges that she is one of the first females in the Minnesota National Guard who has held key leadership roles, however she sees it differently. "I feel responsible for all women in uniform," said Clyborne. "Women before me opened the door, now I've cleared the room. It's up to the women behind me to hold the room."

Securing the Bold North: Minnesota National Guard supports Super Bowl LII

Posted: 2018-02-02  10:45 PM
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"This is what we do," said Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard. "When the local community can't meet the public safety needs, they come to the Guard. We're their normal partner, we're a natural partner, and we're their preferred partner when it comes to filling in the gaps that they can't fill."

At the request of the city, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton authorized the Minnesota National Guard to provide support to security efforts leading up to and during Super Bowl 52. The Guardsmen are providing direct support to and working alongside law enforcement officers from across the state. Like their civilian law enforcement partners, Minnesota Guardsmen are focused on ensuring a safe experience for the residents and visitors who are attending the Super Bowl festivities.

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