There’s a send-off ceremony in Eden Prairie today for nearly 700 Minnesota National Guard soldiers deploying to the Middle East (Friday 11:00 A-M).

The 34th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade is heading to Kuwait and Iraq in support of Operation Spartan Shield and Operation Inherent Resolve.

The troops will provide helicopter, drone and aircraft support to U-S and Coalition Forces against the Islamic State. Minnesota National Guard aviation units have had a total of 18 deployments over the past 18 years. Governor Tim Walz and U-S Senator Tina Smith will be part of today’s farewell.