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Minnesota National Guard
39th Annual Norwegian Exchange: More than just Training

The 39th Annual United States/Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange (NOREX) came to a close when more than 100 Minnesota National Guardsmen landed back in Minnesota on the afternoon of February 23, 2012  The two week Exchange presented both challenging and memorable moments for all participants

The training provided by the Norwegian Home Guard gave Minnesota Soldiers and Airmen both classroom and in-the-field instruction on how to survive in a winter weather environment  Guardsmen got the opportunity to practice what they learned on a three-day field exercise  For most people the most challenging part was the three-mile, uphill ski march carrying a 60-pound equipment pack  Once Guardsmen reached their destination, they were required to make snow shelters to sleep in for the evening



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Preventing frostbite was a reoccurring theme of the training  Keeping feet clean and dry and having a spare pair of gloves and socks in reserve was an emphasis item  Another point made by Norwegian Home Guard experts were that cold conditions reduce your fighting ability and if you manage the cold conditions better than your enemy, you will have a great advantage

"Norwegian instructors were very knowledgeable and put a well executed plan in place to train us," said Maj Michelle Major, Officer in Charge of the 39th NOREX  "The morale was high among the Soldiers and Airmen and they were highly motivated to take on any challenge that the instructors presented them with"

For Maj Troy Fink, Assistant Officer in Charge of NOREX, said picking out one highlight from this year's exchange was not possible  "Overall, everything that made up the experience was the highlight," said Fink  A sentiment shared by several of the members participating in the Exchange  "The shared training and relationship building will prove to be extremely valuable to both countries"

Besides training, Minnesota Guardsmen and women were also given the opportunity to experience Norwegian culture and for one member a chance to visit family he has never seen before  Staff Sgt Ryan Lodgaard, Platoon Sergeant for NOREX, was made aware that he had relatives in Norway about a year ago when they were able to connect via Facebook  During "buddy weekend", a program where Minnesota Soldiers and Airmen get to spend a weekend with a Norwegian host family, Lodgaard was able to spend the weekend with his actual family  The weekend visit allowed him to meet many cousins and establish a bond  Lodgaard and his family in Minnesota plan on making arrangements to go to Norway this summer to spend time with their newly found relatives

"Buddy weekend" and just being able to spend time with the Norwegians showed that we were very similar and that we have more in common than one would think  A lot of strong friendships were built in two weeks and that will only help strengthen the relationship between the United States and Norway

Story and photos by Master Sgt Ralph Kapustka
148th Fighter Wing Public Affairs




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Minnesota Guardsmen learn survival skills, train with Norwegian counterparts

Posted: 2018-07-03  01:36 PM
NOREX 45 Over the course of 10 days, 100 Soldiers and Airmen from the Minnesota National Guard who traveled to Norway June 17-26, 2018, for the 45th Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange learned valuable survival skills and shared their knowledge with members of the Norwegian Home Guard. This year's exchange was the second to take place during the summer months in the history of the longest-running military partnership between two nations.

"It was a great experience for both the Minnesota National Guard and the Norwegian Home Guard," said Capt. 'Kiwi' HorgA�ien, the senior Norwegian instructor. "A cultural exchange, a social exchange and military exchange all packed into one."

The 45th exchange got off to a late start, with flight delays causing the trip to be shortened from its normal length of two weeks. The delay meant that the Minnesota Guardsmen jumped right into training, heading out to the field after just a few hours of sleep.



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Posted: 2018-06-29  10:48 AM
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The exercise, tagged as Iron Ore, was designed test the Airmen abilities to set up operations at an unfamiliar location and receive in depth training on Ability-To-Survive and Operate (ATSO) principles while supporting airlift and aeromedical flight operations.

To ensure mission success and readiness, Airmen had to complete training at home station prior to leaving for Alpena. Some of this training included weapons qualification, gas mask fit testing, Mission Oriented Protective Posture (MOPP) familiarization, self-aid and buddy care and career field training.



Red Bulls Kickoff Division Warfighter

Posted: 2018-06-13  01:38 PM
DIV WFX CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. - "A Warfighter is an exercise that allows the Division to evaluate their ability to maneuver assets in a battle," said Master Sgt. Greg Weaver, the Operations Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge for the Division Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion. "It is designed to focus on particular areas and specific objectives to be evaluated or tested."

The Division has geared its' planning and training efforts in preparation for Warfighter since July 2017. Coordinating transportation for Soldiers and equipment was often on the mind of Maj. David Johansson, the logistics officer for the 34th ID. With the coordination of Johansson and his team, troops and equipment all converged on Camp Atterbury, enlisting the help of 89 railcars, 280 tractor-trailers, and nearly 50 buses for the movement.

"I like to say my job is to 'quiet the noise'". Johansson continued, "The noise being a real life logistical problem that could impede the exercise."



Minnesota-based aviation unit takes part in Warfighter Exercise

Posted: 2018-06-08  11:59 AM
34ECAB WFX CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. - More than 150 Soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard's 34th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade are here participating in a multi-echelon training event, Warfighter Exercise 18-5, May 30 to June 15.

The exercise, which is part live and part virtual, is testing the St. Paul, Minnesota-based aviation unit's ability to conduct operations and mission command in a high-intensity, complex operating environment. Soldiers are being challenged to take decisive action as they focus on air-ground operations -- or synchronizing and integrating aviation operations into the scheme of maneuver planned and conducted by forces on the ground.

In this case, the units on the ground are being commanded by the Rosemount, Minnesota-based 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, which is also participating in the exercise.



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