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Minnesota National Guard
The Youth of the Norwegian Home Guard

Camp Ripley, Minn is alive this week with the youth of Norway This group of 60 Norwegian Home Guard Youth, who arrived on 12 Feb, will enjoy a week of intense Army training finishing off with a weekend of sight seeing and shopping in Minneapolis
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The youth of Norway come to Minnesota with great expectations For them to come here is a "big deal," according to Norwegian Youth Marthe Brendefur, "everyone hears great things about this in Norway"

While they are here they build a great sense of esprit de corps in their platoons and achievements Values, such as honor, duty, and camaraderie, are reinforced through their daily activities and competitions Many of the youth build such strong bonds with the Minnesota cadre they meet that they later send messages and gifts back with current participants to be given to their old cadre leaders

The youth compete with other platoons daily to earn the right as the "hooah" platoon The winner of the coveted "hooah" battle streamer attaches it to their guidon, proudly displaying their achievements for the day Whenever a platoon wins the banner, their mascot (a teddy bear dressed in military fatigues) receives a promotion in rank The goal is to get the mascot to General

Of all of the activities they have participated in, among the most popular and widely anticipated was the ride on the CH-47 Chinook helicopter, qualifying with the M16 and M4 rifles, and shopping

Jonas Salthammer, another Norwegian Home Guard member, expressed an opinion which was shared by all

"The best part of this exchange is meeting new people and seeing the differences between our cultures," Salthammer said

In Norway, all youth are required to serve a conscript (a one year length of time in the military) after high school One such youth is Anders Ofstaas, nicknamed "Highspeed," because of his gung ho attitude and desire to succeed He has decided he will join the army to become a paratrooper

These teenagers are highly trained, disciplined, and motivated This becomes evident when they are seen on the range or in the field

"They zeroed and qualified faster than the most of the adult Soldiers do," said one training noncommissioned officer who trains Soldiers in firing the M16 using electronic simulation

Staff Sgt John Hugh, a military police officer and platoon sergeant for the white platoon, spoke of how impressed he is by the youth in his platoon

"They are very hard core, and very motivated When you see that kind of motivation, esprit de corps and can do attitude it is absolutely awesome," Hugh said "It has been a pleasure training them "¦ I couldn't have asked for a better group of young people to train in my life"

By Spc Alicia Phillips
Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs
17 Feb 2010

See an overview of the Norwegian Exchange here.

This story picked up by US Army Eurpean Command.

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