Monday, May 23, 2005

National Guard involved internationally

Donald Sensing has a guest commentator today who is an expert on The National Guard. Maj. John Krenson, among other things, tells us about a program called "National Guard State Partnership Program", which was implemented in 1993 with the express goal of "aiding in the development of foreign armies - particularly those of the former Soviet Bloc in Europe and Central Asia."

The program is managed by pairing up various foreign armed forces with individual US state National Guard forces. Maj. Krenson provides a nice map which shows each state and its particular foreign assignee. For instance, Tennessee is assigned the Bulgarian army, Indiana the Slovakian and Latvian armies and Georgia the "guess who" army Maj. Krenon says,
Primary objectives include -

- familiarizing partner nations with our equipment, tactics and training methods,

- the crucial role of our noncommissioned officers corps,

- demonstrating the importance and success of suborning the military to civil authority.

A significant purpose of this program is also to provide humanitarian aid, the injection of economic aid through the money spent on exercises and by US National Guard troops on the local economy while serving there, and the development of relationships and trust between the two nations - the US and the respective partner. Exercises often include a healthy dose of cultural activities designed for the expenditure of money and the social interaction between soldiers as they learn to trust one another, to develop an appreciation and respect for one another’s culture, and to learn how to interact breaking through cultural, ethnic, and language barriers. The impact on the local citizenry is positive and important as well.
He explains how valuable his experiences with the Bulgarian, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan armies were in Afghanistan. He says that this program helped to smoothe the integration of new US allies from the former Soviet Bloc, like Poland, Ukraine, and Bulgaria. Very interesting. As even Maj. Krenson asks, "Who knew?"

One note. The Florida National Guard partners with Guyana and Venezuela. I would think that the wealthy and populous state of Florida could contribute much more. Guyana can't have an army of many more than 5000 members and Venezuela is very close to becoming an enemy of our state. As such, if there are still any Venezuelan soldiers in the United States, someone is asleep at the wheel.

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