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TAG Line October 8, 2021

Staff Sergeant Brandon Wendland, 957th Engineer Company (Multi-Role Bridge), applies a bandage to a simulated Military Working Dog during the Casualty Evacuation mission as part of the 2021 U.S. Army Best Warrior Competition, October 4, 2021, at Fort Knox, Kentucky. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Roger Houghton, 177th Armored Brigade Public Affairs)

N.D. Army Guard Recruiters Celebrate Success

The N.D. Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion (RRB) closed out Fiscal Year 2021 with an end strength of 3,051, increasing the N.D. Army Guard by 59 Soldiers. (National Guard story by Officer Candidate Michaela C.P. Granger, N.D. National Guard Public Affairs)

This year, the N.D. Army National Guard achieved the lowest number of losses on record and was ranked second in the nation for reenlistment success. Officer strength management ended at 107% of their initial goal for the fiscal year. Ensuring that the Army National Guard maintains its appropriate strength levels is the responsibility of these dedicated recruiting and retention noncommissioned officers (NCOs).

Staff Sgt. Kameron Shaw achieved the Director's 54 Award, an award earned by the top recruiter in each of the fifty states, the District of Columbia, and the three U.S. Territories. He was also named Rookie of the Year for the battalion. Master Sgt. Daniel Upgren, northwest N.D. team, was awarded the Master 7, an award presented to the top NCO in charge of a team within the state.

Staff Sergeant Brad Mattson, Recruiting and Retention Battalion, right, holds a National Guard Banner with Students at Fargo Davies High School on Davies Days, May 26, 2021.

Staff Sergeant Kameron Shaw, Director's 54 Award recipient, an award presented annually to the top recruiter in each of the fifty states, the District of Columbia, and the three U.S. Territories. Shaw was also named Rookie of the Year, Fiscal Year 2021.

Sergeant First Class Daniel Smith, N.D. Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion, right, talks with visitors during the West Fargo storefront grand opening, May 24, 2021.

Sergeant First Class Kasey Brusch, left, Spc. Sean Jones, center, and Staff Sgt. Jason Copley, all of the N.D. Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion, celebrate West Fargo storefront Grand Opening, May 24, 2021.
Specialist Sean Jones celebrates the grand opening of the West Fargo storefront for the N.D. Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion, May 24, 2021.

Soldiers from the N.D. Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion and surrounding units joined Davies High School and the local community for a 9/11 remembrance ceremony and Freedom Flag display, Sept. 10, 2021.

Both Lt. Col. JoDee Aubol and Command Sgt. Maj. Troy Miller, the commander and the command sergeant major of the RRB, recently retired. Maj. Nicolette Daschendorf and Master Sgt. Jeffery Sayler have assumed leadership duties of the battalion, taking on the mission for another successful year in FY22.

"RRB achieved our assigned strength goals because of the tireless work of our dedicated NCOs. The units across the state also need to be recognized for helping to retain their Soldiers; their support this past year was simply outstanding", said Sayler.

North Dakota's Best Warrior

Staff Sergeant Brandon Wendland, 957th Engineer Company (Multi-Role Bridge), is currently representing the Army National Guard at the Army-level BWC, competing against Soldiers from across the U.S. Army and U.S. Army Reserve. Twenty-four of the Army’s top Soldiers and Noncommissioned Officers will compete at Fort Knox, Kentucky, during the 2021 Best Warrior Competition, Oct. 3 through Oct. 8.

The Best Warrior Competition challenges the U.S. Army’s top Soldiers and noncommissioned officers through a series of events including the Army Combat Fitness Test, weapons marksmanship, land navigation, and a mystery event designed to push a Soldier’s skills, abilities, Army knowledge as well their physical and mental readiness to the limit. Representing seven geographic commands and 22 functional commands within the U.S. Army, these Soldiers will face challenges that ultimately test their capabilities and combat readiness.

Command Sergeant Major Michael Grinston, Sergeant Major of the Army, speaks with competitors of the 2021 Best Warrior Competition after completing the Army Combat Fitness Test at Fort Knox, Kentucky, Oct. 3, 2021. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. John Healy, 177th Armored Brigade)

Soldiers prepare for flight in a Black Hawk helicopter as part of the Department of the Army's Best Warrior Competition on Fort Knox, Kentucky, Oct. 3, 2021. Staff Sergeant Brandon Wendland, 957th Engineer Company (Multi-Role Bridge), wears yellow #3 path, center rear. (U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Riley Gummersall)

Staff Sergeant Brandon Wendland, 957th Engineer Company (Multi-Role Bridge), drags a simulated casualty during the Casualty Evacuation mission as part of the 2021 U.S. Army Best Warrior Competition, Oct. 4, 2021, at Fort Knox, Kentucky. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Roger Houghton, 177th Armored Brigade Public Affairs)

Camp Grafton Increases Billeting Capacity

Camp Grafton Training Center (CGTC) near Devils Lake, N.D., recently opened its first eight-plex lodging facility. (National Guard story and photos by Maj. Luke Malheim, Installation Logistics, CGTC)

Completed eight-plex lodging facility, Camp Grafton Training Center.

The building contains eight private rooms furnished with a desk, 32-inch television, and a private bathroom. The large open space common area consists of a kitchenette, living room, and laundry room, and is designed to facilitate a team-building environment for guests at CGTC at annual training and students enrolled in courses at the 164th Regional Training Institute.

Camp Grafton Training Center eight-plex lodging facility's common area.

Camp Grafton Training Center eight-plex lodging facility's common area.

Camp Grafton Training Center eight-plex lodging facility's private individual quarters.

Besides a bed and private bathroom, individual quarters feature a desk and a 32-inch television.

This project not only increases CGTC’s lodging capacity, but it also was constructed with troop labor, enabling engineering Soldiers to receive real-world training that increased their individual skills and improved their unit's METL (Mission Essential Task List - tasks that a unit must be able to perform to accomplish their mission) posture. This, in turn, improved overall unit readiness.

This project increases CGTC’s lodging capacity and was constructed with troop labor. This allowed Soldiers to receive realistic training that increased their individual skills and improved their unit's METL (Mission Essential Task List - tasks that a unit must be able to perform to accomplish their mission) posture which in turn improved overall unit readiness.

The collaborative efforts of all stakeholders in this project made the first phase a success. Units that worked on the project include the CGTC Utilities Section and State Shop employees; 164th Regional Training Institute students; 188th Engineer Company; and the 835th Engineer Utilities Detachment. Three additional eight-plex facilities are in various stages of construction.

Hooligans Train on CBRNE

Airmen of the 119th Wing, known as the Happy Hooligans, conducted chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosives training at the N.D. Air National Guard Base, Fargo, N.D., Oct. 2, 2021. (National Guard story by Chief Master Sgt. David Lipp, 119th Wing)

The Hooligans accomplished this required training during last weekend's Unit Training Assembly (UTA) drill.

Members of the N.D. Air National Guard begin the decontamination process during a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and environmental (CBRNE) training at the N.D. Air National Guard Base, Fargo, N.D., Oct. 2, 2021. (Air National Guard photos by Tech. Sgt. Nathanael Baardson)

Members of the N.D. Air National Guard make their way through a decontamination tent during a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and environmental (CBRNE) training at the North Dakota Air National Guard Base, Fargo, Oct. 2, 2021.

Members of the N.D. Air National Guard remove overboots in a decontamination tent during a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and environmental (CBRNE) training at the N.D. Air National Guard Base, Fargo, N.D., Oct. 2, 2021. (Air National Guard photos by Tech. Sgt. Nathanael Baardson)

Members of the 119th North Dakota Air National Guard don their protective clothing during a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and environmental training at the North Dakota Air National Guard Base, Fargo, N.D., Oct. 2, 2021.

MEB Drill Weekend

The 141 Maneuver Enhancement Brigade (MEB) initiated the new fiscal year of Inactive Duty Training (IDT), Friday, Oct. 1 to Sunday, Oct. 3 at the Readiness Center in Fargo N.D. (National Guard story by Cadet Morgan Hovde, 141st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade)

The unit’s primary focus was preparing Soldiers for the upcoming year, familiarizing Soldiers with the MEB's capabilities, and establishing expectations to maintain readiness. To ensure COVID-19 mitigation, Soldiers were tested with BinaxNOW when they reported for duty. Soldiers then conducted the semi-annual height/weight check, received annual influenza immunizations, and completed the Soldier readiness process (records check and update) with the brigade’s S-1 Soldiers.

The unit welcomed 16 new Soldiers to enhance the unit's sustainment capabilities. Col. Ben Cleghorn, 141st MEB commander, shared his intent to continuously maintain readiness and discussed the unit’s priorities and capabilities during the brigade commander's command philosophy brief. He ensured that it will be a busy year with a War Fighter exercise scheduled for April 2022, the brigade-all annual training in June at Camp Ripley, Minnesota, and another War Fighter exercise in September.

Staff Sergeant Kerry Thompson, right, 141st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, processes Capt. David Stein's BINAXNow test at the beginning of drill, Oct. 1, 2021, at the Readiness Center in Fargo. Soldiers are required to test and be cleared for entrance into the facility prior to drill. (National Guard photos by Sgt. 1st Class Ashley Johlfs, 141st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Public Affairs)

Staff Sergeant Kerry Thompson, 141st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, processes a BINAXNow test at the beginning of drill, Oct. 1, 2021, at the Readiness Center in Fargo, N.D.

Sergeant Kallie Kappes, AMEDD, administers influenza vaccine to Spc. Cauy Ellingson, 141st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, at drill, Oct. 3, 2021. The flu shot is an annual requirement for N.D. National Guard Soldiers.

First Lieutenant Krystal Hansen, AMEDD, administers a influenza vaccination to Spc. Ivy Brosseau, 141st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Oct. 3, 2021.
Colonel Brian Keller, N.D. Army National Guard Deputy State Surgeon, reviews Capt. Preston Steele's, 141st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, paperwork prior to him receiving the flu shot at drill, Oct. 3, 2021.

Because this is only the second, weekend drill in the new facility for the MEB, Soldiers are still becoming familiar with the building, their training areas, and their roles within the brigade. To ensure familiarization support, the entire unit attended briefings on Fiscal Year22/23 overview, MEB 101, Command Post layout, and they discussed the Current Operations Integration Cell (COIC) and war room layout, as they wish to improve these training areas to ensure the most beneficial and efficient IDT possible.

Master Sergeant Jennifer Freeman, 141st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, weighs in for the semi-annual height/weight requirement while Sgt. 1st Class Amy Sleath confirms the number before logging it, Oct. 1, 2021, at the Readiness Center in Fargo N.D.

Warrant Officer Richard Blumler, the Officer Strength Manager, briefs details on promotions and resources available within Officer Professional Development (OPD) and Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development (NCOPD). Lt. Col. Ryan Sarenpa, 141st MEB chaplain, conducted a religious service. Mr. Edward Graybill, a representative from the Mission Command Training Program of Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, spoke to the unit on behalf of the MEB’s War Fighting Roles in sustainment. The unit’s primary focus is geared towards preparing for their Annual Training in Camp Ripley, Minnesota, and ensuring that they will have all their equipment, COIC, and personnel properly organized and ready for this crucial training event.

Lieutenant Colonel Ryan Sarenpa, 141st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade (MEB) Chaplain, prays with Soldiers of the 141st MEB for religious services conducted during drill, OCt. 2, 2021 at the Readiness Center in Fargo, N.D.

Kognito

Over the past year the use of technology to supplement human interaction has grown exponentially. Providing education in this manner reduces barriers associated with face-face training. (National Guard story by Dr. Kirby Schmidtgall, Psychological Health Program Manager, N.D. National Guard)

In 2021, the North Dakota National Guard received funding from the National Guard Bureau‘s Warrior Fitness Innovation Incubator to implement Kognito Together Strong online training as a state-wide pilot. This online training gives our Soldiers a chance to practice having difficult conversations in a virtual environment; provide support for their peers; and encourage help-seeking behaviors. The online training will replace the standard suicide prevention and substance abuse trainings for 2022, returning to standard training in 2023.

Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 188th Air Defense Artillery participate in virtual Kognito debrief training, Washington, D.C, Sept. 17, 2021. The Soldiers are on duty in the National Capital Region.

The Kognito Together Strong training is a virtual peer-support training where learners practice having difficult conversations with peers. It is an interactive learning experience that gives the learner the opportunity to interact with service members that are experiencing distress. The learner is represented by an avatar that works with the service member to provide support and encourage help-seeking behavior. A number of Kognito programs are listed as national best practices for suicide prevention. As an adjunct to the online training, designated unit personnel are providing a post-course debrief to the participants, resulting in reinforced learning and Soldier support.

Civil Support Team at Legacy High School

The 81st Civil Support Team (CST) visited Legacy High School in Bismarck, N.D. Oct. 6, 2021. The 81st CST showcased some of their equipment and answered students' questions. The event was set up by the students' teacher as an opportunity for them to learn how science plays out in real-life jobs. (National Guard story and photos by Sgt. 1st Class Ashley Johlfs, NDNG Visual Information)

Sergeant First Class John Noyes, 81st Civil Support Team, speaks to a group of Legacy High School students during their science class, Oct. 6, 2021.

Officer Candidate Brent Lafontaine, 81st Civil Support Team, speaks to a group of Legacy High School students about the operation of the unit's robot during their science class, Oct. 6, 2021.

Officer Candidate Brent Lafontaine, 81st Civil Support Team, speaks to a group of Legacy High School students about the operation of the unit's robot during their science class, Oct. 6, 2021.

Officer Candidate Brent Lafontaine, 81st Civil Support Team, shows a group of Legacy High School students how the unit's robot could assist in a recovery mission during their science class, Oct. 6, 2021.
Officer Candidate Brent Lafontaine, 81st Civil Support Team, shows a group of Legacy High School students how the unit's robot could assist in a recovery mission during their science class, Oct. 6, 2021.

State Partnership Program Update with Chief, NGB

Chief of the National Guard Bureau, Gen. Hokanson, conducted a MS Teams meeting with all of the Bilateral Affairs Officers (BAO) and State Partnership Program Directors (SPP) operating in over 70 countries. (National Guard story and photo by Lt. Col. Mark McEvers, N.D. National Guard director SPP)

General Daniel R. Hokanson, Chief, National Guard Bureau, right, on a teams call with Col. Robert Wentz, J5/3, Director International Affairs, National Guard Bureau J5/3, Oct. 6, 2021.

Hokanson provided his vision and intent for the BAO workforce. He reminded them they are in a unique broadening assignment working with the ambassador and country team. I ask that you share your experiences and knowledge with the National Guard Bureau's International Affairs Division and with members of our Combatant Command (CCMD).

North Dakota National Guard's State Partnership Program is aligned with U.S. Africa Command, located in Stuttgart, Germany, which stood up in 2007.

Top N.D. Army Guard Recruiter Retires

Command Sergeant Major Troy Miller, the Command Sergeant Major of the Recruiting and Retention Battalion, retired on Oct. 1, 2021, after more than 28 years of selfless service to the military, 24 of which were spent serving in the National Guard. He was awarded the Legion of Merit for exceptionally meritorious service. The ceremony took place at the Raymond J. Bohn Armory in Bismarck. (National Guard story and photos by Kiel Skager, N.D. National Guard Visual Information.

Command Sergeant Major Troy Miller's Retirement Ceremony, Raymond J. Bohn Armory in Bismarck, Oct. 1, 2021.

Command Sergeant Major Troy Miller, right, reports to Col. Brock Larson during Miller's retirement ceremony at Raymond J. Bohn Armory in Bismarck, Oct. 1, 2021.

Brigadier General Jackie Huber, left, and Col. Larson, right, present Command Sgt. Maj. Troy Miller with the Legion of Merit during his retirement ceremony, Oct. 1, 2021.

Mrs. Jaqueline Miller, center, is presented with flowers in thanks for her support to her husband, Command Sgt. Major Troy Miller, during his retirement ceremony at Raymond J. Bohn Armory in Bismarck, Oct. 1, 2021.

Command Sergeant Major Troy Miller, left, is presented by Master Sgt. Jeffrey Sayler with a plaque from the Recruiting and Retention Battalion, thanking him for his leadership and dedication to other Soldiers, during his retirement ceremony at Raymond J. Bohn Armory in Bismarck, Oct. 1, 2021.

Command Sergeant Major Troy Miller, center, with his family and friends after his retirement ceremony at the Raymond J. Bohn Armory, Oct. 1, 2021.

Mission Recognition

Happy Hooligan Senior Airman Hope Evenson, a dental assistant in the 119th Medical Group, was coined by Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., Chief of Staff of the Air Force, on Sep 25, 2021. (National Guard story by Capt. Jeremiah Colbert, 119th Wing)

Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., Chief of Staff of the Air Force, left, presents a coin to Senior Airman Hope Evenson, 119th Medical Group, 119th Wing, N.D. Air National Guard, Sept. 25, 2021. (Courtesy photo)

Evenson supported Operation Allies Welcome at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, and was recognized with a coin for her part in setting up a housing village for incoming Afghans. An outstanding example of a Hooligan Airman exemplifying the 'Hooligan Way', and making her mark in the U.S. Air Force.

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