Minnesota National Guard and Norway Sign State Partnership Program Agreement
DULUTH, Minn. – “Today, the U.S. is Norway’s most important ally,” Chief of the Norwegian Home Guard, Elisabeth Michelsen says.
It’s been five decades since two generals, one from the United States and the other from Norway met in Norway and shook hands to start the longest running military exchange program between two nations.
“That handshake meant so much it was 23 years before the agreement was ever formalized with official documents. That shows a history of trust, commitment, service, and understanding,” U.S. Army General Daniel Hokanson says.
In Norway on Wednesday, representatives with the Minnesota National Guard and Norway signed an official State Partnership Program agreement to continue and grow this relationship that started all those years ago.
“Today is a celebration of friendship, is a celebration of mutual respect and understanding. It is a celebration of shared values, support, and a commitment to the future,” Hokanson says.
The agreement will lead to modernization efforts focused on combining the two miliary operations. Points of focus include defense against cyber threats and disaster response.
“What we see now between Norway and the Minnesota National Guard will be a program where we are peers. Where we are equal nations when it comes to military procedures, techniques, equipment, and everything we are doing together,” Norway Chief of Defense, Eirik Kristofferson says.
In attendance at the signing were Minnesota Governor Tim Walz and Queen Sonja of Norway.
“With every interaction they will continue the legacy of that first handshake. You’ve got my back; I have yours and let’s do this together,” Hokanson says.