State Partnerships Prevent Calamities, Guard Bureau Chief Says
By Air Force Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith
Special to American Forces Press Service
GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany, Feb. 9, 2009 The development of international military-to-military relationships built through the National Guard’s State Partnership Program will become vitally important in preventing future world calamities, chief of the National Guard Bureau said here Feb. 5.
Air Force Gen. Craig R. McKinley, chief of the National Guard Bureau, speaks to nearly 50 international, civilian and military leaders attending the Seminar on Transatlantic Security at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, Feb. 5, 2009, in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies photo by Karlheinz Wedhorn
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Air Force Gen. Craig R. McKinley, speaking to students at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, said the National Guard in the 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia now have 60 state partnerships with the militaries of other nations.
“Their governors and their adjutants general, who run their militaries, have all formed working partnerships with nations in the various corners of the world,” he said.
Because it’s easier to prevent calamities than to respond to them, “you start by preventing the things that can go wrong, and you start preventing by meeting and sharing ideas with people,” McKinley said.
The partnership between California and Ukraine, which started more than 15 years ago, is a perfect example, he said. In an effort to bolster their disaster readiness and response, Ukraine sent representatives to California in November to participate in Vigilant Guard, a weeklong emergency-response training exercise.
The Ukrainian delegation exchanged ideas and techniques with their American counterparts on how to deal with flooding, which they experience each year in western Ukraine. In July, heavy rains brought a record deluge there, causing the worst financial damage in more than 100 years.
“We are living in complex and challenging times,” McKinley told the group of nearly 50 international civilian and military leaders attending a seminar on transatlantic security. He encouraged the group to forge new relationships with each other that could serve them in the future.
Partnerships are an effective tool to handle future natural and man-made calamities, which some officials predict will be larger in their scope and size and in the challenges they will pose to governments, the general said.
“We certainly prepare for that major disaster,” McKinley said. “How we as a world community respond to it will be vitality important. The integrated efforts between our governments will be critically important to all of us.”
(Air Force Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith serves at the National Guard Bureau.)