2,400 Minn. Guardsmen deploying for Kuwaitby Jessica Mador, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — The official goodbye ceremony for 2,400 Minnesota National Guard soldiers deploying to Kuwait was being held Sunday at Fort Snelling.
The soldiers are leaving to begin training for a one-year deployment overseas to support Operation New Dawn, which is the drawdown phase of the U.S. military operations in Iraq.
They'll be stationed in Kuwait. And they'll be responsible for providing base management and securing the ground convoys of troops, equipment and supplies throughout Iraq.
Several years ago the same brigade served the longest combat tour of any military unit in the Iraq War.
Sixty percent of the troops deploying this time have never served in combat before.
Maj. Tadd Vanyo from the Brainerd-based 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 194th Armor, says he was surprised by the high percentage of fresh recruits. But he also sees advantages.
"It's a double-edged sword," he said. "The guys that have never deployed before will listen to anything you say."
After the departure ceremony, the troops will head to Fort McCoy, Wis., for training, and they'll go to Kuwait this summer.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)