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North Dakota National Guard prepares to head to Romania

GRAND FORKS — 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.

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.