Minnesota’s Red Bulls advance Army artillery with first-of-its-kind symposium

“That’s the tough part about going first,” said Army Col. Eric Wieland, commander of the Minnesota National Guard’s 34th Division Artillery Brigade, known as DIVARTY, as he took the podium October 13, 2022, in the auditorium of the General Vessey Readiness Center in Arden Hills, Minnesota – home of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division. 

“There’s a lot of challenge that comes with going first, but along with it, a lot of opportunity.” 

Wieland was referring to the 34th DIVARTY being the first of several division artillery brigades that the National Guard will stand up over the next few years as they restructure the operational and training alignment of its eight Army divisions. That means these new division headquarters elements will have to develop standards and operational guidance for units that are not organic to their organization. Units from nearly a dozen different states – some as far away as North Carolina – are aligned with the Red Bulls for training and operations. 

In an effort to both rise to challenges and engage with opportunity, the 34th DIVARTY team planned two events which they held simultaneously at the Arden Hills Army Training Site. One event was a symposium, with the intent to provide a forum for professional development, sharing best practices, and providing stewardship across the ‘fires’ enterprise. This combines specialties such as field artillery with non-lethal specialties like intelligence gathering. 

The guest list for the symposium reached far and wide across the U.S. Army. It was not limited to field artillery, nor to the National Guard. 

“As an [active-duty Army] commander, I don’t put a lot of thought into [the National Guard and Reserve],” said Army Col. Thurman McKenzie, commander of the 1st Armored Division’s Artillery Brigade. “When the 36th DIVARTY commander came out to talk to me about the fact that they are standing up the 36th DIVARTY in Texas, it started to get the wheels turning in my head. ‘Hey, maybe I’ve been looking a little bit too narrowly and maybe I need to think a little bit broader than just my formation.’” 

Focusing on other formations was at the forefront of Sgt. 1st Class Adam Walton’s mind when he began planning his parallel event for master gunners of downtrace units that are operationally aligned to the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division. 

“Last year at the division warfighter, this was one of our ideas,” explained Walton. “Let’s put together a red book and get that going as one of our first projects to add value to the force and to downtrace battalions.” 

A Soldier from 2nd Battalion, 222nd Field Artillery “Triple Deuce” out of Utah, shares information about how his unit conducts training with a group of Master Gunners from other states as part of the Master Gunner event. At the General Vessey Readiness Center in Arden Hills, Minnesota, the 34th Division Artillery (DIVARTY) held an inaugural Fires Symposium and simultaneous Master Gunner Event on October 13, 2022. The intent for the events were to share best practices and provide a starting point for integrating intelligence assets into Fires as well as establish best practices for the future as additional National Guard DIVARTY units are stood up.

The master gunner event was an opportunity to share training plans that the 34th DIVARTY had developed over the past year and included their ‘red book,’ a document which takes doctrine and standardizes it for the 34th Infantry Division’s field artillery. The event was also an opportunity for subordinate units to share their best practices and identify issues they faced while facilitating training at their home stations. 

“I see it more as a working group. That’s kind of the way I’d like to project it going forward,” said Walton. “What are the problems in Utah; what are the problems in North Carolina, in Iowa, in Idaho, and Minnesota? And how do we as a division artillery help the [subordinate] aligned battalions facilitate their training and work through some of those issues?” 

The symposium was highlighted by an appearance from the leadership team of the 56th Artillery Command, a major subordinate unit of U.S. Army Europe and Africa. Army Maj. Gen. Stephen Maranian and Army Command Sgt. Maj. Darrell Walls fielded questions from guests and offered their insights on subjects ranging from how to operate with NATO partners to who tears down the tents in a field environment. The Army’s recent change of operational alignments nested the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division with V Corps and U.S. Army Europe and Africa. 

“We’re going to keep doing this going forward, making it bigger and better,” said Walton. “In our red book we say that we’re trying to set ourselves apart, and I think this event was part of creating the Red Bull standard.” 

By Army Staff Sgt. Linsey Williams 
Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs