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Minnesota National Guard
Croatian leaders visit troops

CAMP RIPLEY, Minn-The 2011 Croatian Exchange Partners for Peace mission was made extra special by the attendance of a few high level guests July 14 and 15

Pjer Å imunovic, State Secretary in the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Croatia, Vice Skracic, acting ambassador, Croatian Brig Gen Vlado Sindler and Croatian Brig Gen Mate Paden traveled to Camp Ripley to meet with Soldiers and observe their training

"We currently have a platoon size element of Soldiers from the country of Croatia training with my battalion," said Minnesota Army National Guard Lt. Col. Mark G Wiens, battalion commander, 2nd Battalion, 136th Combined Arms Battalion "They will train side by side with the Soldiers of my battalion and be able to share their experience back and forth, enhancing the training for both groups"

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The group started their visit to Minnesota by meeting with Maj. Gen. Richard Nash, adjutant general of the Minnesota National Guard, and then received a briefing on the Operational, Mentoring and Liaison Team number five, which Croatia is a part of, said Minnesota Army National Guard Lt. Col. Guy Konietzko, International Affairs Officer This was followed by lunch at a local restaurant and then departure for Camp Ripley

Upon their arrival to Little Falls, Minn the group had their first opportunity to meet with the Soldiers taking part in the exchange The Soldiers and distinguished visitors dined together at the Cabin Fever restaurant in Little Falls

"It's a great pleasure to be able to dine with you this evening," said Brig Gen Jerry Lang, assistant adjutant general of the Minnesota National Guard, as he spoke with the Croatian Soldiers "I hope the training you are receiving is beneficial and the bonds you build with your American counterparts last you a lifetime"

The next morning the group had breakfast with Camp Ripley Post Commander Col Scott St Sauver, who spoke with them about the capabilities of the installation

Breakfast was followed by a trip down range where the group had the opportunity to observe Soldiers conducting training

"What you are about to observe is a combined arms fire power demonstration," said Minnesota Army National Guard Maj Byce Erickson, operations officer, 2nd Battalion, 136th Combined Arms Battalion "The demonstration will start with a M1 main battle tank moving into position and firing, followed by a Bradley Fighting Vehicle, which contains a squad of Soldiers who dismount and take up fighting positions The demonstration utilizes both Americans and Croatian Soldiers"

Following the demonstration, the group went to a local establishment and had lunch with Camp Ripley staff members

The group finished their Camp Ripley activities by observing Soldiers conducting an urban operation exercise The Soldiers demonstrated for the group a cordon and search operation, which again utilized both American and Croatian Soldiers working together to conduct the operation

"Troops are well integrated together, they have been able to establish seamless action," said Å imunovic We can truly learn from each other For us this is an opportunity to train with the best and also have the benefits of this fine establishment

The group is finished their visit to Minnesota with a dinner with senior leaders from the Minnesota National Guard


By 1st Lt Kenneth R Toole

Camp Ripley Public Affairs Officer




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