Norwegian Home Guard to be part of historic summer exhange with Camp Ripley
BAXTER — For the first time in 41 years of military exchanges between Camp Ripley and the Norwegian Home Guard, the Norwegians will arrive in June.
The exchange has historically been done in February.
For the summer exercise, Camp Ripley soldiers will be going to Camp Porsangmoen, Norway, close to the Russian border.
This year’s exchange will involve a smaller number of youth, new conscripts from Norway, and will include a larger number of the regular Norwegian military.
Col. Scott St. Sauver, Camp Ripley commander, provided an update on the upcoming training schedule to the Baxter City Council Tuesday.
Chinook and Black Hawk helicopters are deploying to Kuwait in May. Soldiers from other states, including Wisconsin and Montana and North Dakota, will be in for training. The camp expects to have 5,188 soldiers in June.
St. Sauver said it will be the first time the camp will be noisy with armored units involved, field artillery and bridging units practicing on the Mississippi River.
St. Sauver said Camp Ripley has one of two fast water bridge sites in the nation.
In July, Camp Ripley expects to host about 936 soldiers. St. Sauver said this summer, after years of deployments, will be closer to normal.
For August, the camp expects 2,346 soldiers. By mid-August, both artillery rounds and rockets will be part of the training. St. Sauver said if people see smoke trails going south to north, it will be from the rockets, which have a minimum range of 14 to 15 miles.
In 2015, St. Sauver said the camp will be significantly busier with large units and brigades coming in for the entire summer, including bridge units.
As soon as the snow departs, the camp expects to commence controlled burning. St. Sauver said the camp has 12,000 to 13,000 acres to burn. This is the first year the camp’s crew is certified to do its own burning.
“As soon as we can get after this we will,” St. Sauver said, adding the camp has to get the ranges burned off before soldiers start live fire exercises with artillery.
Last year, the camp had $23 million in projects as part of its capital outlay. That will decrease this year, St. Sauver said. In 2013, Camp Ripley had $2.3 million in local contracts and $1.9 million for food. Camp Ripley reported its total economic impact was $304,181,085 in 2013.
Camp Ripley is the training site for civilian units as well with Department of Corrections criminal apprehension units, marshal tactical officers association and the American Red Cross. In addition, the camp serves as the training site for all the state’s snowplow drivers.
A medical simulation training center is a new facility at Camp Ripley to train combat medics. The facility will simulate full combat requirements day and night, complete with high-technology simulation dummies. The Combined Arms Collective Training Facility (CACTF) trains civilians and soldiers.
The $19.5 million addition to the education center with hotel lodging for 48, a classroom for 200 and dining facility to seat 400 should be online in January of 2015.
The camp is also home to partners in the Department of Natural Resources and Minnesota State Patrol. St. Sauver said with all troopers on site during the next six weeks, Highway 371 is probably not going to be a good place to exceed the speed limit.
In addition to the training facilities, St. Sauver noted the environmental services at the camp won the 2013 Army Environmental Quality Team Award and is now competing at the Department of Defense level, which is a credit to the environmental programs taking care of the natural resources at the camp.
Camp Ripley is also looking at green energy, geothermal heating and a solar farm that is looking at becoming a Minnesota Power micro grid.
St. Sauver said everyone is interested in green energy right now and Camp Ripley is looking at a lot of those technology areas.
“We are really just doing a normal year,” St. Sauver said. “In 2015, we are going to be extremely busy. ... We are going to need support of hotels up here.”
St. Sauver said some folks will be living here for six to nine months to support the military exercises next season.