Minnesota’s 136th Infantry prepares for California training

Minnesota National Guard
Armor crewmen of the 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry Regiment on winter drivers training and refinement of tank operations at Camp Ripley in this March 2013 photo.

The men and women of the 136th Infantry, based in Moorhead, are at Camp Ripley north of Little Falls performing live-fire drills with their Abrams and Bradley tanks in preparation for a rotation at the prestigious National Training Center in California. Kevin Wallevand of Forum News Service says the 600 National Guard members are undergoing three weeks of realistic war games in Minnesota to prepare for the assignment. “Out of the other similar units across the Army National Guard, we’re the only one to get this type of training,” said the company’s commander, Lt. Col. Jason Benson. The 136’s stint in Iraq was the longest National Guard deployment ever. The 136th in Moorhead has guard members from Detroit Lakes, Fergus Falls, Wadena, Grand Rapids, Crookston and Thief River Falls.

It’s just not spring without some podium-worthy advice. Albert Lea High School seniors were advised last weekend to always maintain goals, grit and gumption. Hannah Dillon of the Albert Lea Tribune was taking notes as Adenuga Atewologun, president of Riverland Community College, told grads, “You have accomplished an important milestone,” one he remembers crossing 40 years ago in his home country of Namibia. To get the things you want in life, he said you have to have goals (to keep your focus), grit (the courage and resolve to stick to your goals), and gumption, which Atewologun defined as having a spirited or mission or being resourceful.

The Rochester Post-Bulletin noted that last weekend was the 25th anniversary of Paul Wellstone’s announcement that he’d fight incumbent Independent-Republican Sen. Rudy Boschwitz for his seat in the U.S. senate. Has it really been that long?

Rain has slowed the alfalfa hay harvest and crop spraying in Minnesota, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The first cutting of alfalfa is four days ahead of last year but five days behind the five-year average. Most of the corn crop has emerged with corn condition rated 73 percent good to excellent, up 3 percentage points from last week. Soybean planting is 97 percent complete. Eighty-eight percent of the soybean acreage has emerged, 13 days ahead of last year and 11 days ahead of average.

Preliminary figures showed that 416 motorcycles and 550 riders took part in the Ride for the Troops in Bemidji on Sunday, according to the Bemidji Pioneer. This is the event’s 10th year. The annual raffle raised $900 and the Zerkel Store, where Zerkel community members sell food and donate money back, raised $800, while overall tentative numbers have the 2015 Ride for the Troops raising more than $17,000 for military families. The event kicked off Sunday with a pancake breakfast put on by local Boys Scouts. Sunday’s ride was for 134 miles.

Trey Mewes of the Austin Daily Herald tells the story of an unfortunate man who broke into two homes uninvited. Austin Police Chief Brian Krueger said homeowners at the 1900 block of Sixth Avenue Northwest reported the suspect allegedly walked through their home at about 5:30 a.m. Saturday and stopped in the kitchen before he walked out. Officers caught the man nearby a short time after and took him to the Mower County jail pending formal charges. Krueger said the man tested over the legal blood-alcohol content limit while at jail. “People need to lock their doors,” he said. “That’s all there is to it.”

Over in Austin, an Austin woman woke up just before 3 a.m. Friday to find a half-naked woman crawling on the floor and clawing at the carpet, the Austin Daily Herald reported. The homeowner, who lives at the 1600 block of First Avenue Southeast, told police the intruder allegedly had no shirt or bra on but did wear a red jacket. The victim believed the intruder, in her 40s or 50s, was high at the time, according to Police Chief Brian Krueger. The homeowner walked the intruder out of her home before police responded. “Again, the message is please, please secure our doors when you are turned in for the night or at home,” he said. “This could have been a lot worse.”

A bronze statue of Shaynowishkung looking peaceful and holding court over the Bemijigamaag was dedicated on the shores of Lake Bemidji, the Bemidji Pioneer reports. Shaynowishkung, or Chief Bemidji, stood beneath raindrops gazing at Bemijigamaag from the shores of Lake Bemidji on Saturday afternoon. Surrounded by family, the new bronze-cast sculpture was serenaded by wooden flutes, waves lapping the shore and a southeasterly wind. Shaynowishkung’s great-great grandson Donnie Headbird, of Cass Lake, was one of the people witnessing the monument dedication. Artist Gareth Curtiss of Olympia, Wash., created the statue. Curtiss said what drew him to the project were the powerful photographs of Chief Bemidji. “I felt a great connection when I saw the images,” Curtiss said.

Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 06/09/2015 - 03:35 pm.

    It’s outrageous

    that the National Guard is being used in combat roles overseas. The governor should be called out for giving permission to use “his” troops on an assignment that clearly is not a part of their mission, which is to protect Minnesota from foreign invaders during war time and assist with state emergencies when called upon by their commander-in-chief (the governor).

    And why would they have to go to California to practice maneuvering and shooting their tank weapons? They would only use them in Minnesota if the time came.

    If the regular army isn’t big enough to perform their mission, then increase the size of the regular army.

  2. Submitted by Neal Gendler on 06/10/2015 - 09:40 pm.

    Re. the 136th

    I think what was meant was that the 136th’s Iraq deployment was the longest National Guard deployment in that country, not the longest National Guard deployment “ever.” National Guard units — Army and Army Air — were mobilized in 1940 and 1941 and served for the entire war. The 29th Division, an Army Guard unit based in Virginia, was one of two divisions to make the initial landing on Omaha Beach.

    Mr. Tester seems not to realize that the Army National Guard and Air National Guard are reserve forces of their services. The belong both to the state and to the federal government, and may be used by the governor, but outside of state active duty (fires, floods, emergency situations), they are trained, paid and equipped by the Defense Department as deployable resources.

    The sort of training available at the National Training Center is unique, as close to combat as possible and essential for having combat-ready forces. The space, training scenarios and instructional control simply aren’t available elsewhere.

    The simple fact is that the nation’s active-duty forces — army and air particularly — are not large enough to deal with major combat situations such as Iraq and Afghanistan, and this is by design. After the Vietnam tragedy, Gen. Creighton Abrams, Army chief of staff (or maybe even chairman of the joint chiefs), reorganized the Army so it cannot effectively go to war without its reserve forces — some of which have specialized technical capabilities. That better integrates the Army into the nation.

    A reserve-forces service member costs taxpayers about one third as much as an active-duty member (for whom we pay not only salary but housing and food allowances, medical care for the member and dependents and often cost of students in local districts). Yet the reservist, who lives at home and usually has a civilian job, can provide the same expertise as an active-duty member, and often more because they tend to stay in for longer. Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve units, particularly, work to remain at combat-ready status, supply major portions of the nation’s attack, transport and tanker aircraft, and are integrated into the daily operations of the Air Force worldwide.

    The size of the defense budget is a contentious issue, and without placing a great deal of defense capability in reserve forces, it would be unbearable.

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