Herald JournalHerald Journal, Jan. 27, 2003

More Minnesotans deployed; military activity is getting closer to home

By Lynda Jensen

The war on terrorism is moving closer to home as more units in both the National Guard and Reserves were called up recently.

Charlie Company of the 142nd Engineers in the National Guard, which is based out of Fort Ripley, is departing today for Bosnia.

This will include one Hutchinson soldier and another from St. Cloud who volunteered to join this unit to fill specific spots that needed to be served, said Sgt. Dan Smith of the 682nd engineer battalion, based out of Hutchinson.

Two Howard Lake soldiers serve in the 682nd battalion, but were not called out because that unit was not activated.

The soldiers in Charlie hail from all over Minnesota, said Major Kevin Olson of the military public affairs office. There are 145 soldiers in the 142nd.

Charlie specializes in the construction of on-site headquarters, Smith said. They will begin training at Fort Carson, Colo., Olson said.

In addition to National Guard units, the Reserve Unit of the 367th engineer battalion was activated out of St. Cloud in the past two weeks.

Chad Bergstrom of Dassel, who is a military nurse, was called out as the result of the 367th being activated, said his wife Kim.

First, he will train in Illinois, and then be gone for one year, Kim Bergstrom said. The government would not tell her what country her husband is going to, she said.

Previously, several other units have been called out, such as the 353rd Transportation Company last February. They have not returned yet.

Also last February, a unit of the Air National Guard was deployed from Duluth, the 148th Fighter Wing. Soldiers in this unit flies F-16 aircraft and conducts combat missions that patrol over US cities, Olson said.

This unit, made up of 200 men, is still serving, Olson said.

Other Reserve units called out the 983rd medical unit from Fort Snelling, the 79th military police from the Rochester area, and a personnel unit from the 329th AG stationed at Fort Snelling.

This is the most action seen by the Minnesota National Guard since Desert Shield in the 1990s, Olson said.

More to be called out

More Minnesota National Guardsmen are planned to be called out for peace keeping efforts in Bosnia this October, Olson said.

"Minnesota will deploy 1,100 soldiers for peacekeeping in Bosnia," he commented.

The units hail from Duluth, Rosemount, and Moorhead, he said.

Units higher on the call-out list are are engineers that construct camps, information units that specialize in psychology, and transportation, Olson said.

The are more than 200 specialties in the Army alone, he added.

What is the difference between Reserves, National Guard?

There are two distinctly different part-time versions of the military forces, the National Guard and the Reserves.

Soldiers of the National Guard answer to the governor of Minnesota, and swear to defend against enemies, both foreign and domestic, said Major Kevin Olson of the military public affairs office.

The Reserves are the federal version of the military and answer to the president of the United States. Reserve units assist the full-time military units.

The public in general might also be confused about volunteer organizations in relation to soldiers being called for active duty, and the draft.

The National Guard and Reserves are both volunteer forces.

When people sign up for the National Guard, they sign a form and agree to be called up in the event of an emergency, Olson said.

In contrast, the draft requires an act of Congress and hasn't been enacted since the end of Vietnam, Olson said.

For now, the Selective Service System remains in a "standby, caretaker" status, according to the web site of the Secret Service, www.sss.gov.

In response to a question about the draft Sept. 18, Defense Donald Rusmfeld indicated that there was "not a chance" of reinstituting the draft.

The military is successful in attracting and retaining talented people in sufficient numbers, Rumsfeld said.

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