MINNEAPOLIS (WJON News) -- A group of Minnesota National Guard members are gearing up for a deployment to the Middle East.

On Saturday, more than 550 members of the 34th Infantry Division “Red Bulls” and their families will attend a Family Preparation Academy ahead of a 10-month deployment. The guard members will head to Fort Cavaso, Texas in early February for a month of post-mobilization training, head to Kuwait, and then remain overseas until December.

The Arden Hills-based 34th Infantry Division runs Task Force Spartan from Kuwait and supports seven nearby countries to help increase their security and build self-reliance as part of Operation Spartan Shield.

The deploying soldiers come from 216 communities across 13 states including Becker, Big Lake, Clear Lake, Cold Spring, Paynesville, Princeton, Rice, Sartell, Sauk Rapids, St. Cloud, and St. Joseph, and range in age from 19 to 57 years old. This will be the first deployment for 46 percent of the soldiers.

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