More than 1,000 Minnesota Army National Guard soldiers of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division will deploy next year to support U.S. operations in Iraq.
The 1,037 soldiers are based in Rosemount, Inver Grove Heights, Faribault and Stillwater. Details of the deployment, which begins Feb. 13 and is expected to last about a year, were provided Thursday by Maj. Gen. Rick Nash, the commanding general of the division, and recounted on the Red Bulls' Web site.
The 34th Infantry Division's mission will be to command military operations in the southern portion of Iraq, stretching from the provinces south of Baghdad to Saudi Arabia, the Web site reported, noting the area is about the size of Minnesota.
At Camp Ripley Wednesday, Maj. Gen. Larry Shellito, Minnesota National Guard adjutant general, spoke of the historic nature of the deployment with the National Guard unit taking over operational control from an active duty Army division - the 10th Mountain Division based in Fort Drum, N.Y.
Officials say the soldiers will provide the leadership, command, control and in-depth staff analysis for a 16,000-person multinational task force in Iraq. They will be in charge of eight of Iraq's 18 provinces.
Nash said the scope of the mission was unprecedented.
The Red Bulls report the deployed soldiers will spend the first couple of months training at Fort Lewis, an active duty Army base near Seattle. The soldiers - about a third of them have been through previous deployments - are expected to arrive in Iraq in April and spend about 300 days overseas.
Deploying 34th Red Bull Infantry Division units include those at the headquarters in Rosemount, the Special Troops Battalion in Inver Grove Heights, the Division Band in Rosemount, and the Stillwater-based 34th Military Police Co.
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