Minnesota and Croatia celebrate 20 years of partnership


June 10, 2016 (KARLOVAC, Croatia) — For two decades Minnesota and Croatia have been involved in the National Guard State Partnership Program allowing for cooperation and a mutual assistance between the Minnesota National Guard and the Croatian Military.


This year a group of about 30 Soldiers and Airmen from across Minnesota will spend their Annual Training in a town hit hard by conflicts in the early 90’s.


Croatia’s partnership with Minnesota is going on 20 years of humanitarian and civic assistance missions and other relationship building events. This year the Minnesota National Guard has been tasked to provide engineering and construction support to the Primary Dubovac School in Karlovac, Croatia. The project consists of a complete remodel of the kitchen, staff bathroom and locker area in the school.

Members of the Minnesota Army National Guard’s Camp Ripley-based 851st Vertical Engineer Company and the Civil Engineer Squadrons from the Minnesota Air National Guard’s 133rd Airlift Wing and 148th Fighter Wing have sent a number of troops to help with the labor intensive task of the timely remodel. The Guardsmen are working with theCroatian Army Engineering Horizontal Construction Company for this project funded by the Humanitarian and Civic Assistance Program.


“I think this is great training and a unique opportunity for our Soldiers and Airmen to work together alongside of the Croatian Army for a good cause,” said Army National Guardsman 1st Lt. Jon Fougner, engineer officer and officer-in-charge of the group. “We brought in our knowledge base and go out of our comfort zone in regards to American construction practices.”


School will be in session for part of the time the Guardsmen will be working on the building. Curious young on-lookers will get to experience a lot of the construction process during their time here. The renovations by the troops will impact the school that service nearly 800 first to eighth-graders.


“I am sold on the state partnership program and think it’s a great mission,” said Capt. Fernando Nacionales, deputy base civil engineer for the 133rd Airlift Wing.


European Command’s Humanitarian Civic Assistance Program funds the logistics of the mission and the Minnesota Guardsmen who come to do the work in lieu of stateside Annual Training are an integral part of getting the job done in such a short time.


by Tech. Sgt. Lynette Olivares
133rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs