Minnesota National Guard signs State Partnership Program Agreement with Norway

Governor Walz visits Norway
Governor Walz visits Norway(Northern News Now)
Published: Feb. 15, 2023 at 1:25 PM CST
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TRONDHEIM, NORWAY. (Northern News Now) - On Wednesday, the Minnesota National Guard signed an official State Partnership Program agreement with Norway.

Governor Tim Walz participated in the official State Partnership Program (SPP) signing ceremony in Trondheim, Norway, which expanded the long-standing partnership between Minnesota and Norway’s militaries.

Minnesota National Guard officials say the state will open up its partnership to the entire Norwegian armed forces agencies through this program.

The partnership will increase the Minnesota National Guard’s interoperability with a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) ally and build upon already established ties.

“As a Minnesotan and a member of the Minnesota National Guard, I am grateful the Department of Defense has officially approved our partnership with Norway,” said Army Maj. Gen. Shawn Manke, Minnesota National Guard’s Adjutant General.

“Unique from the earlier State Partnership Program model, our relationship with Norway is already mature,” said Manke. “What a great day for the United States and a great day for Minnesota as we further commit to the future with our partner and our friend, Norway.”

The Department of Defense’s State Partnership Program pairs the National Guard of a U.S. state or territory with a partner nation’s military, security forces, and government agencies responsible for emergency and disaster response.

The program started in 1993 with 13 partners and is known for its low-cost yet high-payoff application to security cooperation efforts.

It has now grown to 95 partner nations and is a key U.S. security cooperation tool that facilitates collaboration across all aspects of civil-military affairs.

Governor Walz also celebrated the 50 year anniversary of the Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange (NOREX), which is the longest-running military exchange partnership between two nations, at the Archbishop’s Palace.

“I am humbled and honored to be here today to dedicate this [State Partnership Program] agreement to all the people who started this program [NOREX] in 1973 and followed up through 50 years,” said Eirik Kristoffersen, Chief of Defence of Norway. “I think they would be very proud to see what we have accomplished.”

Before the ceremony, Walz met with members of the Minnesota National Guard and Norwegian Home Guard participating in the military exchange.

He was hosted by Her Majesty Queen Sonja of Norway and joined by United States Ambassador to Norway Marc Nathanson; Army Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, Chief of the National Guard Bureau; Army Lt. Gen. Jon Jensen, Army National Guard Director; and Army Maj. Gen. Shawn Manke, Minnesota National Guard’s Adjutant General.

“It was my honor to meet with members of the Minnesota National Guard and Norwegian Home Guard and hear firsthand how critical this military exchange is to building trust, partnership, and mutual understanding with our Norwegian partners,” said Governor Walz. “I am proud to make this historic partnership official and look forward to working together to advance our shared values and security interests.”

Wednesday’s events are part of the Governor’s four-day visit to Norway to strengthen Minnesota and Norway’s strong military and economic ties.