BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (WCCO) — A large group of Minnesota National Guard soldiers were just notified that they will be deployed to Kuwait to help with the final drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq.

About 2,400 soldiers from the Bloomington-based 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division have been notified and the formal announcement will be made Sunday at the unit’s Family Prep Academy, which is a program that educates soldiers and their loved ones how to deal with deployment.

“Approximately 60 percent of the Brigade, this will be their first deployment,” said Maj. Paul Rickert. “For 40 percent of the Brigade this will be their 2nd, 3rd, 4th — we even have some soldiers that this will be their 6th deployment.”

NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Bruce Hagevik Interviews Maj. Paul Rickert

The soldiers will be mobilized for one year and will start their training in May.

“We expect to be stationed in Kuwait and will be in charge of base security and command operations for the different bases in Kuwait,” said Rickert.

The Minnesota National Guard said this is the second largest deployment of Minnesota soldiers since World War II.

This is the same unit that had the longest combat tour during Operation Iraqi Freedom back in 2006-2007.

The soldiers come from 29 units in 530 Minnesota communities, including:

– the 2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry , based in Mankato

– the 1st Regiment, 194th Armor,  based in Brainerd

– the 1st Squadron, 94th Cavalry,  based in Duluth

– the 1st Battalion, 125th Field Artillery,  based in New Ulm

– the 1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion based in Bloomington

– the 134th Brigade Support Battalion based at Camp Ripley

“Soldiers of the 1st Brigade Combat Team have demonstrated that they are a confidant capable and ready force. I am honored that our Minnesota Soldiers have been asked to take part in this historic mission,” said Major General Rick Nash, Adjutant General of Minnesota, in a statement released Saturday night.

The soldier will assist in Operation New Dawn which is the name of the U.S. drawdown phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom.


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