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Minnesota National Guard
35th Annual Norwegian Exchange Youth Training

When the Norwegian Home Guard landed on Minnesota soil, excited but jet-lagged Soldiers disembarked from the chartered plane Three days later, acclimatized and ready, they started their winter skills training

The Norwegian Home Guard is on Camp Ripley as part of the 35th Annual Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange program In this program, Soldiers from both countries trade places to learn about winter survival and customs of their counterparts Here, the Home Guard operate and train as American Soldiers; wearing their uniforms, qualifying with their weapons and learning their ways The Home Guard program has pretty much remained unchanged since the beginning, according to Sergeant First Class James "Goose" Schaur, Platoon Trainer

"The only rule is to have fun," he said "And the focus has never changed"

2nd Lt Trond Alfredsen, Norwegian Home Guard, agreed Alfredsen first visited Minnesota 10 years ago during the 25th Norwegian Exchange, and said the program is very much the same

"The only thing different is we had more snow," he said "The training is very good"

Throughout the week, the Home Guard will participate and compete for bragging rights in weapon qualifying and familiarization firing, winter field survival, an Akhio sled race and a Winter Biathlon They will be graded on each event, and the top platoon will be declared the winner of the North Star Stakes in an awards ceremony at the end of the week

"They will have to use everything they learn during the competition," said Goose He also stated to help his platoon take the first place spot, he concentrated on building platoon pride and teamwork, as well as nurture leadership qualities

In addition to the training, many of the Home Guard Soldiers were looking forward to other experiences here at Camp Ripley

"All the Youth are looking forward to the shooting simulators," said Alfredsen, "as well as shopping at the PX for Souvenirs"

By Sgt Daryl G Sanford
17 Jan 2008
The Norwegian Exchange Program

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