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Minnesota Guard prepares for winter readiness

CAMP RIPLEY - Minnesota National Guard units across the state are preparing for duty as winter storm responders in support of local civil authorities.

Vehicle operators of the Minnesota Army National Guard trains on the M937A2 Small Unit Support Vehicle (SUSV) in preparation for winter storm response operations within their community. The SUSV can transport up to 15 passengers between the two heated compartments in various weather and terrain conditions.
Vehicle operators of the Minnesota Army National Guard trains on the M937A2 Small Unit Support Vehicle (SUSV) in preparation for winter storm response operations within their community. The SUSV can transport up to 15 passengers between the two heated compartments in various weather and terrain conditions.

CAMP RIPLEY - Minnesota National Guard units across the state are preparing for duty as winter storm responders in support of local civil authorities.

"We are in constant communication with the sheriff and police department within our community," said Staff Sgt. Jill Wirtzfeld, Readiness NCO with the 224th Transportation Company in Olivia.

The average snowfall in Minnesota varies from 36 inches to more than 70 inches annually. The hazards produced by storms such as blizzards, deep snow-pack, and freezing rain can put unprepared motorists at risk.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety, has overall responsibility for disaster response functions. They work in cooperation with county sheriffs.

Before the winter weather condition began, units of the Minnesota Army National Guard started preparing to support civil authorities during major winter storm events.

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"The mission of the Minnesota National Guard is to deploy forces to areas at the request of the sheriff or mayor to provide military support to civil authorities in order to protect life, property and provide security," said Maj. Ryan Cochran, operations chief with the Joint Force Headquarters - Minnesota.

"We are working directly with the responders but the request still has to be made through the headquarters to open the armory and provide support," said Staff Sgt. Jill Wirtzfeld.

"Our responsibility to the community is to position recovery vehicles and equipment at appropriate facilities, be prepared to provide shelter to stranded motorists, and conduct vehicle/motorist recovery activities," said Sgt 1st Class Troy McFarland, Operations NCO with the 1-151st Field Artillery in Montevideo.

"Reorganization of the winter storm response equipment to areas more frequently affected by winter weather has better help us respond when needed," said Maj. Cochran.

Whether it is preparing for a deployment overseas, or preparing to provide support to civil authorities, the Minnesota National Guard strives to uphold its motto of "always ready - always there."

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