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Soldier Exchange Creates Bonds Between Minn. And Norway

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(credit: CBS) Liz Collin
At 15 years old, Liz Collin made her broadcast debut covering...
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By Liz Collin, WCCO-TV

LITTLE FALLS, Minn. (WCCO) – Some Minnesota soldiers are learning new skills in a different country. It’s a country Minnesota considers close to home: Norway.

For more than three decades, Camp Ripley has been a part of a soldier exchange program between Minnesota and Norway.

It’s a program that makes better soldiers and new relationships in two countries.

Linn Strandos is one of 116 soldiers from Norway spending two weeks learning from Minnesota’s military members.

“It’s an experience. I love it,” Strandos said. “I love the shooting!”

The Norwegian soldiers train with M-16’s, learn new drills, compete in a biathlon and are trained in winter survival.

1st Lt. Sindre Kvalvaag is from Norway and enjoyed the winter survival training.

“We built survival snow shelters with twigs and sticks covered in snow,” Kvalvaag said.

Maj. Paul Orson is the Commander of Youth at Camp Ripley.

“The youth are qualifying on an automated weapons range to US standards with our weapons,” Orson said.

While Norwegian soldiers train in Minnesota, soldiers from Minnesota are doing the same in Norway.

“I think it’s great. You can see what we are doing, and we can see what you are doing,” Strandos said.

Conscription is still required in Norway. Young men must serve at least a year as soldiers.

The soldiers will fly back to Norway on Tuesday. There are also 11 soldiers from Croatia and one soldier from Sweden at Camp Ripley as part of the same program.

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