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Minnesota National Guard to send troops to Guantanamo Bay

National Guard troops responded to civil unrest in the Twin Cities after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.

MARK VANCLEAVE, STAR TRIBUNE/TNS

By REID FORGRAVE | Star Tribune | Published: August 7, 2020

About 150 Minnesota National Guard soldiers from a Stillwater-based military police unit are deploying to Naval Station Guantanamo Bay to provide security.

The 34th Military Police Company was also one of the first Minnesota National Guard units to respond to civil unrest in the Twin Cities at the end of May during the protests and riots following George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis police custody.

A unit deployment ceremony will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday at the armory in Stillwater, but because of COVID-19 restrictions, the public is asked to view the ceremony virtually rather than live. The ceremony will be streamed on the Minnesota National Guard’s Facebook page.

The soldiers will head to Fort Bliss, Texas for additional training before heading to Naval Station Guantanamo Bay.

Joint Task Force Guantanamo operates the detention camps on the U.S. military base in Cuba. Begun shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, the detention camps have held prisoners captured in the war in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.

“Our soldiers are trained and motivated for this important mission,” Capt. Troy Davidson, the company commander, said in a statement. “We’ve worked hard over the last few years to make sure this unit is one of the most ready units in the U.S. Army.”

The unit received the Maj. Gen. Harry H. Bandholtz Award earlier this summer. The award recognizes the top military police units in the U.S. Army.

The Stillwater-based military police company has deployed soldiers to Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001.

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