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Minnesota National Guard
Seal of the Minnesota National Guard.svg
Minnesota National Guard Logo
Active 1850 - Present
Country United States of America
Allegiance State of Minnesota
Branch National Guard
Type Joint
Size 13,124[1]
Garrison/HQ St Paul, Minnesota
Nickname(s) NorthStar Guard
The Adjutant General [3] Maj. Gen. Richard C. Nash [2]
Ceremonial chief Governor Mark Dayton

The Minnesota National Guard is composed of approximately 14,000 soldiers of the Minnesota Army National Guard and Airmen of the Minnesota Air National Guard, serving in 63 communities across the state. The Constitution of the United States specifically charges the National Guard with dual federal and state missions. The National Guard is the only United States military force empowered to function in a state status. Those functions range from limited actions during non-emergency situations to full scale law enforcement of martial law when local law enforcement officials can no longer maintain civil control. The National Guard may be called into federal service in response to a call by the President or Congress.

When National Guard troops are called to federal service, the President serves as Commander-in-Chief. The federal mission assigned to the National Guard is: "To provide properly trained and equipped units for prompt mobilization for war, National emergency or as otherwise needed."

The Governor may call individuals or units of the Minnesota National Guard into state service during emergencies or to assist in special situations which lend themselves to use of the National Guard. The state mission assigned to the National Guard is: "To provide trained and disciplined forces for domestic emergencies or as otherwise provided by state law."

Major units

[4] [5]

Minnesota National Guard Joint Force Headquarters The Minnesota National Guard has units in sixty-two communities statewide. The Minnesota Army and Air National Guard Joint Force Headquarters is located in the St. Paul Capitol complex.

The Rosemount-based 34th Red Bull Infantry Division oversees the training and operations of eight National Guard brigades in six different states. Known as the “Red Bulls,” the 34th Infantry Division is capable of deploying its Main Command Post, Tactical Command Post and Special Troops Battalion in order to provide command and control for Army Brigades.
The 34th Infantry Division fought in World War II and continued the legacy when the division assumed control of U.S. Division – South, Iraq, in May 2009.

A Red Bull Soldier in Iraq.

The Red Bulls provided command and control of military forces in the southern third of Iraq. The area, known as US Division-South, is geographically about the size of Minnesota and is the largest sector in Iraq. Headquartered at Contingency Operating Base Basra, more than 1,200 Minnesota Citizen-Soldiers led a force of approximately 14,000 U.S. service members throughout nine of Iraq’s 18 provinces.

The 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 34th Infantry Division (1/34 BCT) is an Army National Guard Brigade Headquartered in Bloomington, Minn. The brigade is capable of supporting the nation in a federal capacity with trained and ready combat forces. Additionally, the brigade is prepared to support the state with both Soldiers and equipment to assist civil authorities during a crisis.
The 1/34 BCT conducted both state and federal missions in 2009 to include flood fight support in the Red River Valley, search and rescue operations, and security operations during the 44th Presidential Inauguration.

The 34th Combat Aviation Brigade's annual training period culminated with the Domestic Operations competition testing flight crew's abilities at sling and water bucket operations July 21, 2010

The 34th Combat Aviation Brigade (34th CAB) of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division is an aviation brigade headquartered in St. Paul. In May, 2009 more than 700 brigade Soldiers returned from deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The 34th CAB supports the state of Minnesota with aerial fire suppression, reconnaissance, flood assistance, search and rescue and other emergency requests. In 2009, the brigade also supported our Canadian allies by cross-training 14 of their CH-47 “Chinook” pilots and aircrews for their deployment to Afghanistan. This training took place at the new Army Aviation Support Facility in St. Cloud.

A 133rd Airlift Wing Minnesota Air National Guard C-130H flies along the shore of Mille Lacs Lake in northern Minnesota during a training mission. U.S. Air Force Photo by Tech Sgt Erik Gudmundson (Released)

The 133rd Airlift Wing is a Minnesota Air National Guard Wing headquartered in St. Paul. Utilizing the C-130 Hercules, the 133rd Airlift Wing provides the U.S. Air Force with tactical airlift of troops, cargo and medical patients anywhere in the world.
The 133rd Airlift Wing’s C-130 flew 3,017 hours, hauling 1,076 passengers and 95 tons of cargo around the world in 2009 as well as deployed more than 300 Airmen to Iraq.
At home, in 2009, the 133rd Airlift Wing supported a short-notice request by NASA’s Haughton-Mars Project to transport its Moon-1 Rover to Resolute Bay, Canada for field testing. In 2010, the 133rd Airlift Wing will continue to provide tactical airlift of troops, cargo and medical patients supporting military operations worldwide.

In the early morning of New Year's Eve 2008, an F-16C Fighting Falcon sits tethered to the hot cargo pad at Joint Base Balad, Iraq. The aircraft is tethered to secure it in place prior to a full afterburner engine run-up.(U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Erik Gudmundson)

Winner of the Air Force’s Raytheon Trophy for 2009, the 148th Fighter Wing is a Minnesota Air National Guard wing headquartered in Duluth.
The 148th Fighter Wing provides the U.S. Air Force with combat Air Sovereignty and Air Defense. Airmen of the 148th Fighter Wing stand prepared to support the State of Minnesota with Airmen capable of responding to homeland security incidents or natural disasters. In 2009, more than 300 Airmen deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan, and the unit flew 2,394 sorties totaling 5,300 flight hours.
At home in 2009, the 148th Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit responded to 17 off-base calls from local law enforcement in Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin. The 148th Airfield Fire Department responded to 233 calls for support from the Duluth International Airport and three mutual aid calls from local fire departments.
The 148th Fighter Wing stands ready, in 2010, to support missions both home and abroad.

  • 84th Troop Command

The Convoy Escort Teams of the 1st Battalion 151st Field Artillery (FA), 115th Fires Brigade, escort truck convoys from Kuwait to Iraq, ensuring Soldiers have the supplies they need.

The Minneapolis-based 84th Troop Command provides field artillery, chemical, and engineering capabilities for both federal and state missions.
Units within the 84th Troop Command deployed multiple times in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Falling under the 84th Troop Command is the CERF-P: the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High Yield Explosive (CBRNE) Enhanced Response Force Package. During the 2009 flood fight, the 84th Troop Command’s 850th Engineer Company providing quick reaction forces and evacuation assets in 6 cities located in Cass and Barnes counties North Dakota during its temporary assignment to the North Dakota National Guard.

  • 347th Regional Support Group

The 347th Regional Support Group (347th RSG), headquartered in Roseville, provides specialized capabilities such as military police, personnel, medical, finance, and human resource services.
In 2009, the 347th RSG deployed the 34th Military Police Company to Basra, with the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, and also deployed the 114th Transportation Company to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

  • 175th Regiment (Regional Training Institute)

Instructor gives an Officer Candidate tactical advice during a training exercise at Camp Ripley, Minn.

The 175th Regional Training Institute provides combat arms, leadership, military occupational specialty and general studies training for the Army National Guard, Army Reserve and active component Army Soldiers at Camp Ripley.
In 2009, the 175th Regional Training Institute successfully trained 47 commissioned officers and 18 warrant officers, and trained Soldiers and units for deployment at maximum combat readiness levels.

The state-owned, 53,000-acre (210 km2) Camp Ripley Training Center is “The Warrior’s Choice” for training in Minnesota. This multi-faceted training center serves as a world-class military training center for all branches and components of service with such facilities as a UH-60 Black Hawk simulator, Improvised Explosive Device training lanes, an Unmanned Aerial System landing strip and a Collective Training Facility range.
Minnesota state agencies also rely on Camp Ripley’s exceptional facilities for training. Community interest groups across the spectrum of Minnesota life utilize Camp Ripley for its resources, expertise and commitment to award-winning environmental stewardship.

See detailed list of Minnesota National Guard units.



2001 to present

Minnesota National Guard Staff Sgt. Robin Mattson speaks with a local resident while patrolling the streets of Moorhead, Minn. during flood fighting operations Mar. 28, 2009. Approximately 500 members of the Minnesota National Guard, under the direction of the Governor of Minnesota, continued to provide assistance to civil authorities in support of flood fighting efforts during the record high flood. (U.S. Air Force Photo by MSgt Jason W. Rolfe) (Released)

The Minnesota National Guard has been involved in the Global War On Terror since the September 11 attacks in 2001. Immediately after the attack on New York City and Washington, D.C., Minnesota Air National Guard F-16 Fighter Jets from the 148th Fighter Wing were providing combat air patrols over key locations. Minnesota Army National Guard troops mobilized to ensure that Minnesota airports were safeguarded.

A Red Bull Soldier in Iraq.

In addition to being called upon for the Global War on Terror, the Minnesota National Guard was called upon to provide stability and peace in the Balkans. Minnesota National Guard troops executed the Bosnia Security Force (SFOR-14) mission 2003-04 and the Kosovo Force (KFOR-5) mission in 2004.

Minnesota National Guard forces are heavily involved in the “Long War” to this day. Current operations have troops deployed for Operation Noble Eagle (Homeland Security); Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan); and Operation Iraqi Freedom (Iraq). The Minnesota Army National Guard’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, holds the record for the longest serving unit in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

2006 marked the 150th anniversary of the Minnesota National Guard. On April 17, 2006 the House of Representatives of the State of Minnesota congratulated The Minnesota National Guard and honored all the men and women, past and present, who have ever served in the Minnesota National Guard.


Growing tensions in the Persian Gulf erupted in August 1990 when Iraq invaded its neighbor, Kuwait. Within months this oil-rich region experienced the largest deployment of American combat forces since World War II. "Operation Desert Shield," intended to protect Saudi Arabia, became "Operation Desert Storm," when a US-led international coalition used its military to liberate Kuwait and destroy Iraq's army and air force.

Unlike the war in Vietnam, Desert Shield/Desert Storm made heavy use of reservists. About a fourth of all U.S. military personnel called into active duty during the Gulf War were from the National Guard and Reserves. Over 600 Minnesota Guard members volunteered or were activated with their units, including the 109th Aeromedical Evacuation Flight, 109th Light Equipment Maintenance Company, the 1187th Medical Company, and the 257th Military Police Company. The war was over by April 1991, and soon Minnesota's troops headed home.

The 135th Public Affairs Detachment left in June 1996 for Germany to support Operation Joint Endeavor. Originally stationed in Heidelberg, Germany the Minnesota element of the 135th traveled to Eagle Base just outside Tuzla, Bosnia to cover the first free elections since the ending of the war. Later the team moved to "tent city" Steel Castle to support the 1st Armored Division Engineers by reporting stories of maintaining roads, de-mining inhabited areas and providing American military forces with living conditions to allow Soldiers to maintain health and spirit, all contributing to the success of the Balkan mission.

The worst flooding in the state’s history occurred in 1997, and Minnesota National Guard troops were there to assist the citizens of the state. The Guard helped lead and organize search and rescue, security, shelters, medical support, and logistics efforts.


The transition from a Vietnam-era draft to an all-volunteer force had a tremendous impact on the Minnesota National Guard.


Threats by the Soviet Union to oust Western troops from West Berlin in 1961 prompted the Berlin Crisis and a call-up of selected National Guard forces throughout the nation. Included in this mobilization were members of the 133rd Air Transport Wing, Minnesota Air National Guard, who served in federal active service for 11 months while operating out of their home station at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport.

During the Vietnam War, although never officially mobilized, the Air Guard flew hundreds of supply and transport missions to Southeast Asia.

In the 1950s and early 1960 both units of the 179th Fighter Interceptor Squadron in Duluth and 109th Fighter Interceptor Squadron in St. Paul were providing active air defense commitments with 24 hour alert status.


A Minnesota ANG F-51D in the early 1950s.

America again found itself at war in 1950-this time in Korea. In January 1951, as a result of the massive and sudden reinforcement of North Korean forces by Soldiers from Communist China, the Minnesota Guard was again called up. Many of its members were seasoned World War II vets and the 47th Division was selected to serve as a training division for two years during the Korean War. Most of its personnel were eventually reassigned as replacement troops in Korea or Germany. Minnesota's Air Guard was also activated, contributing pilots to Korea's "Mig Alley."


The Red Bull in the Winter Line of Pantano, Italy -- November 29 to December 3, 1943

With war threatening in Europe and the Far East, the Minnesota National Guard was mobilized again in February 1941. Most troops went to Camp Hahn, near Riverside, California, for coastal anti-aircraft artillery training or to Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, for training with the 34th Infantry Division.

The 34th (soon to be re-nicknamed as the "Red Bull" Division) became the first American Division to ship for Europe in January 1942. It fought through North Africa (where men of Minnesota's 175th Field Artillery fired the first American shells against the Nazis), and Italy. Brainerd's tank company, after training with its newly organized 194th Tank Battalion at Fort Lewis, Washington, was shipped to the Philippines in September 1941 to shore up American defenses there.

When war broke out in December it fought the Japanese into the Bataan Peninsula and endured the Bataan Death March. The 109th Observation Squadron ended up in Europe where it initially flew Mark V "Spitfires" with the Royal Air Force and, later, reconnaissance missions with P-51 "Mustangs."

The Minnesota National Guard became part of a newly-organized 47th "Viking" Infantry Division following World War II, and its airmen became part of a new Air National Guard.


In the years following World War I, the Minnesota National Guard was preoccupied with reorganization, recruitment and armory construction. Minnesota's 109th Observation Squadron became the first federally-recognized air unit in the National Guard in January 1921. In June 1931, a new field training site was opened to troops at Camp Ripley north of Little Falls. It took its name from Fort Ripley, a long-abandoned 19th century army post which, coincidentally, had been located on land purchased for the new National Guard training camp.

The first Air National Guard unit in the nation was the 109th Observation Squadron, Minnesota National Guard, passing muster inspection on January 17, 1921.


Human Animated Crest of 34th Division, Sandstone Division, U.S. Army Camp Cody, Deming New Mexico, USA

In July 1916, because of border raids conducted by Pancho Villa and the courting of an unstable Mexican government by Germany, President Woodrow Wilson used his new legal authority to mobilize the nation's entire National Guard for patrol duty on the U.S.- Mexican border. The Minnesota Guard was sent to Camp Llano Grande near Mercedes, Texas. Although they never saw fighting, their border duty helped prepare them for a much bigger challenge: World War I.

Barely home from Texas, Minnesota Guardsmen were again mobilized when the United States entered the war against Germany in April 1917. Most went directly to Camp Cody near Deming, New Mexico, for training with a newly-organized 34th "Sandstorm" Infantry Division. The 34th consisted of Guardsmen from Minnesota, the Dakotas, Iowa and Nebraska.

The 34th was eventually named as a depot division and broken up. Minnesotans were reassigned and sent to France as individual replacement troops while the division was reorganized and filled with new draftees from the southwest. Fortunately, Minnesota's field artillery regiment remained intact. Redesignated as the 151st Field Artillery, it became part of the 42nd "Rainbow" Division where it fought with great distinction in France.


The Spanish American War and Beginnings of Federal Control

Minnesota's National Guard was converted to four U.S. Volunteer Regiments when the war with Spain began in April 1898. Only the Thirteenth Minnesota Volunteer Regiment, however, was destined to see foreign service. The 13th fought Spanish troops and Filipino revolutionaries in the Philippines from 1898-99. During the Battle of Manila, the Thirteenth Minnesota Volunteer Regiment, under the command of Major General Arthur MacArthur, were to take the right flank during the battle of Manila. When it came time to advance on Manila, it was a battalion from the 13th which led the way. Of all the fighting that day, the most intense combat took place on the right flank with the Minnesotans in the worst of it. The 13th saw the heaviest fighting during the battle.

The 13th also had the greatest number of casualties, more than all of McArthur’s regiments combined.

The U.S. gained status as a world power as a result of its war with Spain, but the war also called attention to serious military deficiencies. Among them was the nature of the National Guard, which had been functioning, more or less, as a group of autonomous "state armies." Landmark federal legislation in 1903, 1908 and 1916 resulted in federal controls that brought standardization and affirmed the National Guard as the Army's primary organized reserve.


When Civil War broke out in April 1861, volunteers from Minnesota's militia formed a nucleus for the first three companies of the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Both sides in the war had to rely on volunteer regiments, battalions and separate companies recruited by the states. The "First Minnesota" is officially recognized as the senior such regiment in the Union Army because Alexander Ramsey was the first governor to offer state troops to President Lincoln.

The regiment went on to serve with distinction in the Army of the Potomac and became legend as a result of its gallant charge at Gettysburg on July 2, 1863.

During that charge the First Minnesota was ordered to attack. The Minnesotans charged into the leading Confederate brigade. Fighting against overwhelming odds, Minnesotans gained the time necessary for the Union line to reform. But the cost was great. Of the 262 members of the regiment present for duty that morning, only 47 answered the roll that evening. The regiment incurred the highest casualty rate of any unit in the Civil War.

Minnesota eventually organized and recruited volunteers for 11 infantry regiments, two cavalry regiments, a heavy artillery regiment, three light artillery batteries and two sharpshooter companies, totaling 22,000 men. Many of these Soldiers also served on Minnesota's frontier; in fact, hastily organized local militias and detached companies from several volunteer regiments were the only line of defense during Minnesota's Dakota (Sioux) War of 1862.

After the Civil War, the Minnesota Militia re-emerged to become officially known as the Minnesota National Guard. These organizations became a colorful part of community social life but when called upon never failed to deal with civil disturbances and other state emergencies requiring military aid. Annual summer encampments were held at Camp Lakeview on Lake Pepin near Lake City. Control was vested with the state and funding came largely from modest state appropriations and from the members themselves.


Minnesota formed a Territorial Enrolled Militia in 1850, but it only existed on paper until April 1856 when the first uniformed, volunteer company was formed in St. Paul. Called the Minnesota Pioneer Guards, it was a source of such civic pride that soon nine other companies were formed in St. Paul, St. Anthony (Minneapolis) and in river towns from Stillwater to Winona. Minnesota's National Guard traces its beginning to these early militia companies.


The idea of a militia, or body of citizen Soldiers as distinct from career soldiers, was borrowed from England and dates in this country from 1636, when three militia regiments were organized for the common defense in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Militia companies were eventually organized throughout colonial America, and they provided its principal defense force.

In spite of shortcomings, the various colonial militias became indispensable to the cause of American independence. They were the back-up for General Washington's Continental Army, providing large numbers of armed men when needed on short notice, and they assured the authority of colonial governors against British sympathizers. Later, the United States Constitution and Militia Act of 1792 provided for continuation of a state-based militia system. The federal government could employ the militia for purposes of national security, but its organization was left with the individual states.


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