Minnesota National Guard initiating flexible alternatives for weekend training

March 20, 2020 (ST. PAUL, Minn.) – The Minnesota National Guard is offering flexible alternatives for upcoming training weekends in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are an operational force, and must continue to train in order to be ready to conduct our state mission if called on to support during this pandemic,” said Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, the Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard.

Jensen tasked leaders to create plans that enable training to be conducted within the social distancing guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and identify required training that can be completed online or via teleconference. The plan gives service members the flexibility to conduct training and receive pay, while taking appropriate measures to prevent the spread of disease.

“We recognize that many of our Soldiers and Airmen, like the rest of our community, have been and will be financially-impacted by loss of work during this time,” said Jensen. “We want to ensure we are providing every opportunity for our Guardsmen to still receive the benefits they signed up for as members of the National Guard.”

Examples of annual training requirements that could be completed online include briefings on cybersecurity, military education, safety-related training, and common online courses including courses provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in domestic response and the Incident Command System. Additionally, many personnel and administrative tasks can be completed online in order to maintain personnel readiness.

Soldiers without access to the internet at home can complete these requirements at Minnesota National Guard armories in small groups supported by full-time staff at each location.

There are some training tasks and mission requirements that must be completed in person, such as maintenance of vehicles, aircraft and weapons. Units preparing for overseas mobilization or deployment must ensure they meet established standards. These required tasks will be facilitated by small groups of individuals in order to ensure the continued readiness of our equipment and personnel.

Additionally, Soldiers and Airmen are being asked to communicate with their first-line leaders their health status to identify those who have potentially been exposed or are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19. Soldiers and Airmen who do report to training will be medically screened upon arrival.

“With the safety of our force and their families in mind, I have authorized a liberal attendance policy with authorized absences, or remote operations for quarantined or ill service members, and excused absences for those with family members that meet that criteria as well,” said Jensen.

Decisions about training are being made by commanders at each level to ensure units continue to be ready for any state or federal mission. Soldiers and Airmen are advised to remain in contact with their chains of command for up-to-date information.

For more information, contact the Minnesota National Guard public affairs office at 651-282-4410 or mn.ng.web@mail.mil.

– About the Minnesota National Guard –

Established in 1856 and headquartered in St. Paul, the Minnesota National Guard has more than 13,000 soldiers and airmen who serve in 61 communities across the state. The citizen-soldiers and airmen of the Minnesota National Guard are ‘Always Ready’ to fight the nation’s wars, protect the country, respond to state emergencies and contribute to local communities. For more information about the Minnesota National Guard, visit https://mnngpublicmain.azurewebsites.us.