Minnesota Red Bulls arrive in Middle East

Published 8:20 pm Monday, November 5, 2018

More than 600 soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard’s 34th Red Bull Infantry Division have arrived in Kuwait for a nine-month deployment.

The Minnesota unit includes one soldier from Albert Lea, one from Alden and two from Clarks Grove, according to a news release.

The unit recently completed one month of pre-deployment training at Fort Hood, Texas, and will lead Task Force Spartan, which is focused on building partner capacity, regional self-reliance and increased security, the release states.

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Knowing that trust cannot be formed just in times of crisis, Task Force Spartan is about fortifying relationships over time, said Master Sgt. Gregory Byrd, non-commissioned officer in charge of future operations. He said it is a show of the United States’ commitment to its partners to achieve a greater level of trust as well as working towards greater regional stability.

The Red Bulls are responsible for mission command of Task Force Spartan, which spans 20 countries through six time zones, with 22 ethnic groups speaking 18 different languages and a total population of over 550 million people.

“It’s all about building relationships with our partner nations,” Byrd said. “We are ready to start operating at our normal battle rhythm and get to work at the job we have been training to do.”

Since arriving overseas, the Red Bulls have assumed their posts at U.S. central command locations throughout the Middle East. Soldiers with the 34th Infantry Division are using the time before the transition of authority to meet with their counterparts of Pennsylvania National Guard’s 28th Infantry Division that they will be replacing to ensure the smooth shift of operational command and control for Operation Spartan Shield.

“I feel like we are ready,” said Brigade Gen. Charles Kemper, the deputy commanding general for support of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division. “We’re sharpened to a keen edge to this point, we’re calibrated to our operational pace, and we have soldiers that are well trained at the mission they will be conducting.”