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Minnesota National Guard
2008 Adriatic Aurora

Soldiers from the US, Croatia, Macedonia, and Albania participated in the last of three planning conference in GAA...� INCI, Croatia. April 22-23, which solidified troop numbers, equipment, and exercises for Adriatic Aurora 2008.

AA08, scheduled to be held June 16-30 in GAA. INCI, Croatia, is a training exercise that is intended to increase Croatia's, Macedonia's, and Albania's ability to conduct international peace and stability operations as part of coalitions, said 1st Lt Robert Grutch, the administrative officer with the 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 194th Armor.

"We're sending 30 Soldiers over there from our battalion Our specialty is infantry," said Grutch, who is assigned to be the acting platoon leader during the exercise "We'll conduct mount training, convoy operations, and weapons familiarization using their weapons."

Minnesota has held platoon exchanges with Croatia annually for the past few years, but this year will be a much larger event than usual.

This year Minnesotan troops, along with Soldiers belonging to their state partner, Croatia, will team up with New Jersey and its state partner, Albania, as well as Vermont and its state partner, Macedonia.

"We'll be spending roughly two weeks there living at their training base, which is similar to Camp Ripley," said Grutch.

Minnesota will be sending an Army National Guard infantry platoon from the 1-194 CAB This is the second year they have participated in AA08

"They'll learn to work with Soldiers from other countries," explained Grutch "They'll learn a different culture and learn some different tactics and weapons."

Soldiers from Minnesota, a majority of which recently returned from combat tours in Iraq, will provide feedback to the Croatians that will better prepare them for upcoming combat deployments to Afghanistan.

"Planning went well," added Grutch, showing promise that AA08 will successfully complete its mission, as well as foster the professional and personal relationships between and among the partner nations and their partner states' National Guard members.

By Pfc Stephanie Cassinos, 34th Infantry Division Public Affairs
April 22, 2008
April 22, 2008 Adriatic Aurora photo gallery

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