Morrison County Record

The Ripley Reporter NOREX 44 ‘Away Team’ assembles in preparation for annual exchange By STAFF SGT. PATRICK LOCH Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs The contingent of soldiers and airmen from the Minnesota National Guard pre- paring for the annual U.S.-Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange assembled for their fi rst formal training event Satur- day and Sunday at Camp Ripley Training Center. The preparatory drill weekend, which took place one month before 103 mem- bers of the Minnesota National Guard embark to Norway as part of the “away team” for the two-week military and cul- tural exchange event, was held to provide information on the exchange and, more importantly, allow an opportunity for these service members from units across the state to come together as one team. “It’s a good opportunity to meet peo- ple from diverse backgrounds in an accel- erated environment,” said Army Sgt. 1st Class David Wentzel, with the 1st Battal- ion, 125th Field Artillery. “This experi- ence is what they’re going to make of it, and they’re making the most of it.” Having met one another face-to-face for the fi rst time, soldiers and airmen as- sembled into platoons before receiving briefi ngs on what to expect while training with the Norwegian Home Guard and conducted activities to build camaraderie among service members from different military units and cultures. “Through the weekend I’ve learned a lot about what to do, and a lot what not to do,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Taylor Hanson, with the 148th Fighter Wing. “I’m really excited, sounds like we’re go- ing to be outside a lot.” Through the weekend soldiers and airmen learned that their training would include a weekend with Norwegian host family, four-day fi eld exercise in the Nor- wegian wilderness -- to include many miles on cross country skis -- and several formal dinners and social functions. The robust schedule will allow plenty of inter- action with their counterparts in the Nor- wegian military while providing a unique Photo courtesy of Camp Ripley Public Affairs. Soldiers and Airmen bound for Norway as part of the 44th annual Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange test their marksmanship using the Engagement Skills Trainer at Camp Ripley Training Center on Jan. 8, 2016. Time spent using the EST was one of several events held throughout the weekend for newly assembled squads and platoons – integrating both Army and Air National Guard members from units across the state – to build camaraderie and teamwork before their 2-week training event in Norway. experience for members of the Minnesota National Guard. “We know we have to be sharp, be- cause we’re representing not only the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force, but also the units we belong to,” said Spc. Alexander Hayes, with the 434th Chemical Compa- ny. “I’m really excited for the experience, it will be new training I’ve never done be- fore. “I’m looking forward to skiing up a hill, instead of down it,” said Hanson, an avid snowboarder. The 44th Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange will be held from Feb. 8 to Feb. 23 in Norway and at Camp Ripley. While soldiers and airmen making up the away team head to Camp Værnes, near Trond- heim, Norway, the home team will play host to a contingent of Norwegian Home Guard members conducting a similar military and cultural exchange here in Minnesota. INSIDE Photo courtesy of Camp Ripley Public Affairs Photo courtesy of Camp Ripley Public Affairs Following a round physical fi tness training, Soldiers and Airmen bound for Norway as part of the 44th annual Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange take a few moments to assign them- selves to two-person “battle buddy” or “wingman” teams. Building relationships and reinforc- ing an “I’ve got your back” mentality will be crucial to ensuring a fun, productive and memo- rable training experience in Norway. Soldiers and Airmen bound for Norway as part of the 44th annual Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange conduct a question and an- swer forum to help shape expectations and ensure preparaedness before their 2-week training exercise in Norway. Camp Ripley, Minnesota Camp Ripley ensures .............. Page 2 MN National Guard deploys ... Page 3 Senior Enlisted Conference ... Page 4 Medical professionals ........... Page 5 Soldiers conduct recovery .... Page 6 Family and Friendship ............ Page 7 Norwegian Winter .................... Page 8 Entertainment Guide .......... Page 9,10 Norwegian youth youth..................... .....................Page Page 11 New Command Sergeant ...... Page 12 Wildfi re Season ..................... Page 13 Camp Ripley graduates ........ Page 14 MNNG Military Police .......... Page 15 Training for Super Bowl ........ Page 16 MN Power & Camp ................. Page 17 Redbulls move vehicles ........ Page 18 Gen. John Vessey .................. Page 19 100th year ............................... Page 20 2017-2018