Minnesotan, Norwegian Soldiers Celebrate 40 Years of Partnership
After two action-packed weeks, the 40th Anniversary of the Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange (NOREX) has come an end. The longest partnership-in-training between two nations, NOREX has been, and continues to be, a shining example of the positive reciprocity that can exist between allied militaries.
Together, Norwegian and Minnesotan troops have braved the cold and snow, skied up mountains, and slept in shelters created with bare, or rather gloved, hands. Not only have the two military groups worked hard together, they have also played well together. No event demonstrated that better than the evening of NOREX's Viking Feast.
Dressed in costumes, designed themselves out of potato sacks, Minnesota troops were treated to an elaborate production re-enacting events which would have taken place in the home of a Viking chieftain. Following the production, each troop was given their own Viking helmet (though made of plastic) and brought to feast on a traditional Norwegian meal.
The following evening also held its traditions, but this time looking a bit more formal than the ancient Vikings. Military leaders from the Minnesota National Guard traveled to Norway to dine with their Norwegian counterparts and the other NOREX participants at a farewell banquet.
"Our troop exchange began in 1974, and is the longest-running military exchange partnership between any two nations," spoke Maj. Gen. Richard Nash, adjutant general of the Minnesota National Guard. "This yearly exchange promotes goodwill and sharpens military readiness between our two nations."
In his address to the gathering at the Camp Vaernes dining facility, Nash shared a brief history of the close military bond between Minnesota and Norway. Afterwards, he presented Maj. Gen. Kristin Lund, Chief of Staff of the Norwegian Home Guard, with a unique gift.
"After the invasion of Norway from Nazi Germany, the 99th Infantry Battalion was created at Camp Ripley, Minn.," explained Nash. "All members of this unit were of Norwegian decent, and more than half were from Minnesota. Their mission was to assist in the Norwegian Resistance in efforts against the Nazis. Lund, in recognition of the 40th anniversary of the exchange program, we present you with an intact, historically correct uniform from a Minnesota Soldier who served in the 99th Infantry Battalion."
A round of applause arose in the room as Lund took a closer look at the gift. With misty eyes her only words were, "I'm speechless."
As an idea and partnership that began with a simple handshake, the Norwegian Exchange has grown to represent a unique camaraderie that exists between two nations.
"You have been working hard, and have made the Troop Exchange program what it is today, so thank you," Lund said, addressing NOREX participants. "I also hope that you have found a lot of friends. That is also an important part of this exchange--the bond between people."
Having demonstrated the purpose of the Norwegian Exchange; training and friendship building; and seeing it cumulate to one evening, members of the Minnesota National Guard shared one more meal with their Norwegian friends. For many, this certainly won't be the last.
"Even though I had my first exchange forty years ago, I still keep contact with people," shared Lund. "I hope that you will come back to Norway again."
Feb. 28, 2013
Story by Spc. Linsey Williams
Minnesota National Guard
Posted: 2014-10-31 10:55 AM ST. PAUL, Minn.- Ninety-six airmen from the Minnesota National Guard's 133rd Airlift Wing are scheduled to return next week to Minnesota following a four-month deployment to Southwest Asia.
"Our Airmen are coming home after a great deployment. Their diligence and constant strive for excellence showed in their efforts and accomplishments while deployed. Their high level of readiness paid huge dividends as they successfully flew and directly supported numerous C-130 re-supply and humanitarian airlift missions in the region. I am proud of each and every one of our Airmen and am glad all have come back safely to their families," said Air Force Col. Jim Johnson, 133rd Airlift Wing commander.
Posted: 2014-10-29 12:32 PM CAMP RIPLEY, Minn.- In 2010, the Army published the Training Circular (TC) 3-22.20, codifying a long-held view by many in the service that physical readiness training, PRT, is more than just pushups, sit-ups and running.
"The Army PRT System is performance-based, incorporating physically-demanding activities that prepare Soldiers and units to accomplish physical requirements," said Maj. Neal Wilson, Camp Ripley garrison safety officer.
Posted: 2014-10-25 03:22 PM CAMP RIPLEY, Minn.- A program started in 2012 to help non-commissioned officers develop and progress in their careers is now available to all Minnesota National Guard non-commissioned officers (NCOs) in the grade of E-5 and above.
The Minnesota National Guard mentorship program provides mentor support for NCOs who wish to further and enhance their careers and gain insight from experienced senior NCOs. The program is open to both the Army and Air National Guard.
Posted: 2014-10-25 01:40 PM CAMP RIPLEY, Minn.- Senior enlisted leaders from the Minnesota Army and Air National Guard gathered at Camp Ripley, October 25-26 to discuss leadership, mentorship, career development and the way ahead for Soldiers and Airmen of the Minnesota National Guard.
Along with discussions about leadership, the focus of many discussions was the changing environment due to military budget cuts and what that means for Service members. As budgets dwindle, personnel cuts are a very real threat that will force the Minnesota National Guard and all military organizations to identify and maintain only the best of the best.
Posted: 2014-10-22 03:53 PM CHISHOLM, Minn.- The Minnesota National Guard's Chisholm-based 114th Transportation Company is scheduled to hold their 30-day reintegration event and welcome home ceremony Saturday at Chisholm High School after a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan.
"A priority of the Minnesota National Guard is to improve the wellness and resiliency of service members and their family members," said Army Capt. Ryan R. Koester, 114th Transportation Company Commander.