700 Minnesota National Guard soldiers set to deploy to Middle East

Almost 700 Minnesota National Guard soldiers will deploy to the Middle East after a departure ceremony Friday morning.  

According to the National Guard, at least part of the St. Paul-based 34th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade will deploy to the Middle East to help fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

The brigade will provide Army helicopter, Unmanned Aerial System and fixed-wing support to United States Armed Forces and Coalition Forces. The National Guard says they will fly UH-60 Black Hawk, CH-47 Chinook and AH-64 Apache helicopters as well as Grey Eagle unmanned aircraft and the fixed-wing C-12 Huron.

"Our soldiers are ready to deploy, well-trained, fully-equipped and highly-motivated," said Col. Gregory Fix, the brigade commander. "Several of our soldiers re-enlisted or extended to go on this deployment."

"We will provide support to Operation Spartan Shield and Operation Inherent Resolve, using aviation assets to provide reconnaissance, transportation, and medical evacuation and partner with other coalition military units," said 34th ECAB Commander Gregory Fix. 

The Minnesotans will join units from seven other states as well as Coalition forces from Spain and Italy.

The Minnesota National Guard has deployed 18 aviation units in the past 18 years.