MAY 13, 2016, CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. – Over 1,300 pieces of military equipment from the Minnesota National Guard will be loaded onto rail cars for movement from Camp Ripley beginning Saturday and ending May 21.
“The logistics of this operation are nearly unprecedented,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 David Mellon, brigade mobility officer for the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team. “Each one of these vehicles needs to be weighed, loaded and secured before we can send them out.”
Soldiers of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, along with supporting units are moving their equipment in preparation for a rotation at the National Training Center in Ft. Irwin, California in late June. Required equipment, including Humvees, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, Abrams tanks, and other systems will be loaded for a nearly 2,000 miles trip to the Mojave Desert.
“We’ve been preparing for this incredibly complex movement plan since we were notified of our rotation nearly 2 years ago,” Mellon said. “We’ve invested countless hours, and enlisted the support of hundreds of service members, to accomplish this feat.”
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 systems 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.
The loading and unloading of more than 400 rail cars will be done by Soldiers of the 347th regional Support Group along with supervisors and facilitators from Burlington Northern /Santa Fe and Intercomp, a company providing advanced weight systems.
“The loading and unloading of equipment at Camp Ripley and Ft. Erwin provides real-world training for Soldiers in our transportation units and is an important part of the mission success for the 1st Brigade,” said Lt. Col. Eduardo Suarez, 347th RSG Deputy Commander.