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North Dakota National Guard prepares to head to Romania

North Dakota National Guard troops in Grand Forks work to load rail cars with equipment bound for Romania for this summer's deployment. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Members of the North Dakota National Guard are preparing to head to Romania this summer for a three-week exercise that will allow them to interact with military personnel from around the globe.

More than 300 members of North Dakota's Guard will participate in the Saber Guardian 2019 exercise, said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Steve Hoikkala. The training, a biannual event organized by U.S. Army-Europe, is a multinational event and will include around 27,000 soldiers.

"A lot of the goal is making sure we're building and creating those relationships with other countries, making sure that if we did have a conflict that would arise that we need to work together," he said. "It gives us the opportunity to exercise the ability to deploy overseas and into Europe and work with those host nation support elements."

The guard has already started to prepare for the exercise by loading up equipment onto trains this week. Guard members loaded more than 200 pieces of equipment. The guard has been working with BNSF Railway Company to finish the task.

"We've spent countless hours on the planning and preparation for the exercise that will be happening (in Romania), but the first step is getting our personnel and our equipment overseas; without that we can't complete our mission" Hoikkala said.

The exercise gives Guard members a chance to train, but Hoikkala said it also gives them an opportunity to go to a different country and experience a different culture.

"(They) can put everything together and work with other countries on a real-world exercise," he said.

Sydney Mook

Sydney Mook has been covering higher education at the Grand Forks Herald since May 2018. She previously served as the multimedia editor and cops, courts and health reporter at the Dickinson Press from January 2016 to May 2018.  She graduated from the University of South Dakota with a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science in three and half years in December 2015. While at the USD, she worked for the campus newspaper, The Volante, as well as the television news show, Coyote News. She also interned at South Dakota Public Broadcasting and spent the summer before her senior year interning in Fort Knox for the ROTC Cadet Summer Training program. In her spare time, Sydney enjoys cheering on the New York Yankees and the Kentucky Wildcats, as well as playing golf. If you've got an idea for a video be sure to give her a call!

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