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The growing partnership between the citizen soldiers of Minnesota and Norway

Minnesota, Norway prepare for troop exchange
Minnesota, Norway prepare for troop exchange 02:41

MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota and Norway are bound together by shared heritage and climate. 

We also share a legacy of hosting the longest-running troop exchange in the history of the United States Department of Defense.

Last fall, Norwegian troops were in Minnesota at Camp Ripley to train with the Minnesota National Guard.

"The most important part is bonding with Minnesota National Guard, get new acquaintances, new friends, and a way to see how Minnesota National Guard does their training compared to ours," said Maj. Kim Horgoien with the Norway Home Guard.

Norwegian Home Guard members learned everything from field medical training, to individual soldier skills, like weapons qualifications and land navigation. Soon, it will be our turn to go to Norway.

Leading the way: Maj. Katie Lunning with the 133rd Airlift Wing.

"I am so excited to be the OIC of the 50th annual troop exchange between Minnesota and Norway," said Lunning.

The Air National Guard Flight Nurse who was in Kabul following the suicide bomber attack at the airport in 2021. Her actions earned her the Distinguished Flying Cross award.

"There was so many injuries, so it was really just focusing on our job as much as we could do," Lunning said.

She worked on patients as she was shot at, managing to get the most critical on an aircraft and out of harm's way. She helped save 22 people during the eight-hour flight.

"It was a display of humanity and people that needed help," she said.


Her next mission in Norway is not as dangerous, but just as important.

"We go into their field training, and the field training experience is pretty much the same as they put their new recruits through," Lunning said. "So they teach us how to build tents, how to have fires, how to survive in the cold, how to survive an avalanche, medical care in the cold, and we do this entire field exercise of training for the winter environment."

This relationship between Minnesota and Norway pre-dates the defense department's state partnership program by 20 years. The hope is on this 50th  Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange (NOREX), it becomes an official part of the DOD's state partnership, joining Croatia as official exchange partners with Minnesota.

NOREX began as a simple handshake between the Norwegian Inspector General and the Chief of the National Guard in 1973.

Next week, WCCO will travel with Minnesota troops as they head to Norway for training. Look for special reports from Reg Chapman and Photojournalist Tom Aviles on WCCO and CBS News Minnesota.

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