A group will also be exercising its constitutional right at the gates
By Col. Scott St. Sauver, Guest Columnist
Sunday, Sept. 15, Camp Ripley will hold its biennial open house from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. The theme for this year’s open house is “Heroes of the Home Front.” It is the desire of the staff and employees at Camp Ripley to say thank you to our family members, community members, employers and civic organizations that have been so instrumental in helping and supporting soldiers.
The tradition of an open house goes back as far as the Civil War, when local commanders would beat the drum, encouraging young men to join the Army. Today, Camp Ripley’s open house is held to allow community members and military family members a closer look at the equipment we use for training. Additionally, non-profit organizations, civic groups and local businesses will be on hand to share information about their organizations with visitors.
One group that will be present outside the gates is the Little Falls Partners for Peace organization. This organization has raised concerns about the use of “drones” on Camp Ripley.
As soldiers of the U.S. Army, we take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. We therefore support any group wishing to exercise their First Amendment rights. However, there are a couple of items of clarification I would like to provide.
First, at Camp Ripley we only fly the aircraft known as UAS or unmanned aerial surveillance. We do not fly, house, or have any weapons carrying platforms commonly referred to as predator aircraft. UAS fly equipped only with cameras and not weapons systems. Our UAS provide critical battlefield intelligence for soldiers in a deployed environment.
Second, this group is also concerned about “drones” conducting warrantless surveillance over U.S. populations. This is a legitimate concern, but a concern best addressed with our elected officials at the national level. UAS at Camp Ripley fly within the boundaries of our restricted airspace.
At our open house Camp Ripley will display some of the latest and most advanced combat vehicles and weaponry. Aircraft and other equipment will also be available for public viewing as well as a large variety of informational booths, food vendors and activities for adults and children. Additionally, Humvee rides will be available.
We hope you will join us for this daylong celebration. Gates open at 10 a.m. A ceremony honoring family members, employers and civic organizations will take place at 1 p.m.
Col. Scott St. Sauver is post commander at Camp Ripley, Little Falls