Moorhead Guard unit heading to Bosnia
Eleven hundred Minnesota National Guard members will be sent on a peacekeeping mission to northeast Bosnia in October 2003. Included in the mobilization are 85 Moorhead residents, said Lt. Col.
Eleven hundred Minnesota National Guard members will be sent on a peacekeeping mission to northeast Bosnia in October 2003.
Included in the mobilization are 85 Moorhead residents, said Lt. Col. Gary Olson, a public affairs officer with the Minnesota National Guard.
The troops will be activated in July, deployed to Bosnia in October and are expected to stay there until April 2004.
It is the largest deployment of Minnesota National Guard soldiers since World War II and the largest mobilization of Minnesota soldiers since the Korean War, Olson said.
"We will be out in small units walking through towns, talking to people and making them aware that we want to contribute to a safe and secure environment," he said.
"We are not a police force. We are an armed force that is there to keep the peace and ensure a safe and secure environment for the people of Bosnia."
Primary cities the troops will patrol include Tuzla, Dubrovnik and Srebrenica, Olson said.
They will join soldiers from Turkey, Russia, Poland and several Scandinavian countries.
While there have been no recent incidents of violence directed toward U.S. forces in that area, danger still exists.
One concern, Olson said, is the amount of unexploded ordinance left over from the Bosnian war that ended in 1995.
"While it is a dangerous place to be going to, we will afford our soldiers all of the skills and training needed to remain safe," Olson said.
Training will start this month and continue until mobilization. Moorhead troops will train locally and at Camp Ripley, seven miles north of Little Falls, Minn.
More than 400 soldiers, members of 2nd Battalion, 136th Infantry, will be called up from East St. Paul, Alexandria, Fergus Falls, Detroit Lakes, Bemidji, Thief River Falls, Crookston and Moorhead.
All 1,100 soldiers participating in the call-up belong to the 34th Infantry Division.
Capt. Daniel O'Malley is one of the Moorhead Guardsmen being deployed to Bosnia.
"It's a mixed bag," he said about the pending mobilization. "Everyone is excited to go, but there are a lot of sacrifices."
O'Malley has a wife and two children. They are expecting a third child any day. The mobilization will mean he'll be away from his young family for about eight months -- six in Bosnia and the remainder during "train up."
The 2nd Battalion, 136th Infantry is at an advantage as far as preparedness, O'Malley said.
"We were scheduled to go on an earlier rotation to Bosnia," he said. "We were on the docket years ago so this is something that we have known about for awhile."
Planning for the earlier mission started in 2001.
The battalion's mission involves operating Bradley armored troop carriers, O'Malley said. The fully armored, tracked vehicles are designed to carry troops into close contact with the enemy.
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