Minnesota National Guard to conduct massive rail movement from Camp Ripley for upcoming training exercise

Railroad personnel and vehicle operators of the Minnesota National Guard work together to load vehilces of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 34th Redbull Infantry Division on Camp Ripley.

CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. – Over 2,000 pieces of military equipment from the Minnesota National Guard will be loaded onto rail cars for movement from Camp Ripley, July 13-26, 2019.

Soldiers of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, mostly from Minnesota, along with supporting units, are moving their equipment in preparation for an eXportable Combat Training Capability (XCTC) exercise at Fort Hood, Texas, later this summer.

“Our team has put forth countless hours of hard work, planning, and coordination to accomplish this incredibly complex movement plan,” said Capt. Tracy Mankowski, Minnesota National Guard Supply Management Supervisor of the Distribution Management Division.

Once in Texas, the exercise will include testing the collective professions of over 5,200 Soldiers from the famed 34th Red Bull Infantry Division. Prior to that, the brigade will need to safely and efficiently execute the movement of their equipment from Minnesota.

“Timely and accurate logistical support is key to enabling overall exercise success for the 1st Brigade and the Minnesota National Guard," added Mankowski. “It takes a lot of collaboration and diligence to execute a movement of this magnitude across multiple states working with both military personnel, civilian contractors and our Guardsmen and women are doing an amazing job.”

Commercial railroads, such as Burlington Northern - Santa Fe, have assisted the Department of Defense with the movement of military equipment for many years. This assistance comes as part of the Cold War system known as Strategic Rail Corridor Network (STRACNET) which was designed for the mobilization of military units across the country in the event of an emergency. Today the system maintains its use as an economically and environmentally responsible method of moving heavy equipment.

With over 170 soldiers, railroad personnel and vehicle operators, rail operations could take up to 12 days depending on the weather conditions. Personnel will load close to 475 cars, as part of several trains, by the time the operation is completed.

Traffic passing through the area may see an increase in rail traffic through their daily travel routes during the evening hours within the period of July 13-26, 2019. Additionally, roads north of Little Falls may be temporarily closed while the train passes. This is the largest rail transport the Minnesota National Guard has done.

“As an entire installation we are proud to directly support our soldiers as they train to meet their federal requirements,” said Brig. Gen. Lowell Kruse, Camp Ripley Senior Commander. “We will continue to be optimistic that as Camp Ripley develops, our capabilities will continue to grow and we are ready to provide the best support we can.”