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Minnesota National Guard
Minnesota Soldiers train with partners in Croatia

Performing combat training missions can be interesting when your squad leader is giving commands in his second language Minnesota National Guard Soldiers from the 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry (2-136 CAB) teamed up with Soldiers from the Croatian Armed Forces for an annual exercise called GUARDEX 12

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The Soldiers from 2-136 CAB were in Croatia training with Croatian soldiers May 4-18 The Soldiers conducted platoon level training, integrating Croatian and US Soldiers

"Things went very well," said Capt Peter Rampaart, training officer for 2-136 CAB "Soldiers from both countries were very motivated"

This marks the 16th year that Minnesota and Croatia have worked together in various programs The Minnesota National Guard supports Croatian contributions and capabilities for peacekeeping, humanitarian relief and search-and-rescue operations The Minnesota Guard also assists in the development and interoperability of Croatia's Armed Forces

The GUARDEX 12 training took place near Knin, Croatia Rolling hills and breathtaking views on the military base mimic the geography of much of Afghanistan The first phase of the training involved familiarization with the Croatian weapon systems and live fire with an assault rifles, pistols, machine guns, RPG-7s and RPG-22s

The platoon level training integrated Croatian and US Soldiers together to conduct route reconnaissance, raid cordon and search, react to ambush and room clearing missions "We brought it all together and it went pretty well," said 1st Lt Chad Malmberg, platoon leader with Company A, 2-136 CAB

The training was observed by Maj. Gen. Richard Nash, Adjutant General for the Minnesota National Guard, who was in Croatia to meet with James B Foley, the United States ambassador to Croatia and leaders of the Croatian Armed Forces

"I was greatly impressed by GUARDEX 12," said Nash "It was well planned and executed by both the Croatian and Minnesota Soldiers It was led flawlessly by the junior officers and enlisted Soldiers"

Nash observed the training with Maj. Gen. Dragutin Rapinc, Land Forces Commanding General, Brig Gen Mladen Fuzel, commander of the Croatian Motorized Brigade, Lt. Col. Zoran Lipoščak, Military Cooperation's Chief with the Croatian Army and other military leaders

"All the officers and enlisted Soldiers from the Minnesota National Guard have been very professional and well-trained," said Lipoščak

"It was very valuable for our Soldiers to take away experience in tactics and the Croatian weapons systems," said Nash "For the Croatian soldiers, the experience increases their credibility within their region and their homeland"

This marks the final year of the training exercise between the two militaries "Although this is the last GUARDEX, it has been recognized by the US ambassador and the Croatian military leaders as a valuable training experience for the Croatian soldiers"

The exercise not only provided outstanding training, but developed friendships between Soldiers in a partnership that began in 1996 and will continue into the future

May 16, 2012
Story and photos by Master Sgt Rich Kemp
Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs

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