A Minnesota Army National Guard unit based in Alexandria is one of four units in the state that will be deployed this year, totaling nearly 1,000 soldiers.
Early this fall, nearly 100 soldiers from Alexandria's Battery C, 1st Battalion, 194th Field Artillery will deploy to Afghanistan with the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, where they will defend U.S. and allied positions using the Counter-Rocket Artillery Mortar system that detects and destroys incoming rockets, artillery, and mortar rounds in the air before they hit ground targets.
The largest deployment will come this summer and involves about 700 soldiers from the Mankato-based 2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry, who are expected to deploy to the Horn of Africa in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. They will serve as part of a task force to improve security at U.S. bases.
In the fall, the Stillwater-based 34th Military Police Company, with more than 150 soldiers, will deploy to Naval Station Guantanamo Bay in support of Joint Task Force Guantanamo.
Near the end of the year, nearly 40 soldiers of Minnesota National Guard’s 177th Cyber Protection Team will mobilize within the continental United States to provide support to U.S Cyber Command.
Currently, the Minnesota National Guard has close to 700 soldiers from the 34th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade and more than 200 airmen from the Minnesota Air National Guard deployed to the Middle East.
In addition, the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 34th Red Bull Infantry Division will transport thousands of pieces of equipment and nearly 5,000 soldiers across the country to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif. The training rotation will prepare the soldiers for a deployment to the Middle East in 2021. Soldiers from the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, Company B, 2-211st General Support Aviation Battalion and 347th Regional Support Group will support the month-long exercise.
The state's National Guard also made two other announcements recently.
Along with the entire U.S. Army, it is implementing a new six-event physical fitness test that is designed to more closely assess combat readiness. The Army Combat Fitness Test will replace the current three-event test that has been in place since 1980.
Equipment for the test is expected to arrive in the spring to be placed throughout the state, enabling soldiers to conduct diagnostic tests leading up to record testing starting in October.
Lastly, before the end of the year, the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division headquarters will move from its current location in Rosemount to a new facility at the Arden Hills Army Training Site. The $39 million facility will be the most modern and advanced building in the Minnesota Army National Guard’s inventory and is designed for sustainability and energy conservation.