Colorado Guard Forms Alliance With Kingdom of Jordan
By Master Sgt. Bob Haskell
Special to American Forces Press Service
ARLINGTON, Va., April 13, 2004 A new, landmark alliance between the Kingdom of Jordan and the Colorado National Guard may be one more step toward bringing peace and stability to the Middle East.
Prince Feisal Ibn al-Hussein, right, of Jordan emphasizes the importance of participating in the National Guard's State Partnership Program with Colorado during an April 1 breakfast meeting in Arlington, Va. Feisal met with Maj. Gen. Mason Whitney, left, the adjutant general for Colorado, and Lt. Gen. Daniel James III, director of the Air National Guard. Photo by Master Sgt. Bob Haskell, USA
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
That is what Prince Feisal Ibn al-Hussein, a member of Jordan's royal family and commander of the Royal Jordanian Air Force, said he hoped for while visiting the National Guard Bureau's joint headquarters April 1 to endorse the new State Partnership Program between his country and the Centennial State.
It is the first time the National Guard's 11-year-old State Partnership Program has formed an alliance with a Middle Eastern country to exchange military, civil and cultural ideas.
The Jordan-Colorado partnership is the 45th affiliation between states and countries since January 1993. Previous partnerships have been forged with Eastern European nations that were former members of the Warsaw Pact, 13 countries in Latin America and the Philippines.
The National Guard's State Partnership Program aligns states with nations around the world to help them develop modern military forces, learn the concept of civilian control of the military, and establish civil-military relationships that benefit the public during civil emergencies.
"Our part of the world is quite often misunderstood. Understanding can't but help (lead to) greater stability, greater security and a greater opportunity for peace," said Feisal following a breakfast meeting with Lt. Gen. Daniel James III, director of the Air National Guard, and Air Guard Maj. Gen. Mason Whitney, Colorado's adjutant general.
"Although we come from different cultures, we all face very, very similar challenges in life. Being able to work together, to be able to address issues together and understand each other is to the benefit of everybody," said Feisal, the younger brother of Jordan's King Abdullah II. "You don't lose out from being able to understand each other and work together," added Feisal, a two-star general, who has flown military helicopters and jet fighter planes.
He wore a lapel pin of the U.S. and Jordanian flags on his gray suit to signify his support for the partnership.
Feisal, 40, has learned much about the American culture, because he was educated at prep schools in Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., and earned an electronic engineering degree from Brown University in Rhode Island in 1985.
Jordan asked to participate in the State Partnership Program last December and asked to be affiliated with Colorado.
Army Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, recommended that partnership to the commander of the U.S. Central Command, Gen. John Abizaid, on March 23. Central Command is expected to endorse Blum's recommendation.
"We are building on a friendship that already exists between our two countries, (and) between Jordan and Colorado," James observed.
Feisal agreed. "We already had a good relationship with Colorado from previous exercises," he said. "When we looked at the Guard assets in Colorado, (we saw) there is actually a very, very good fit between what we have in Jordan, whether it is in the air force and army, and what there is available in Colorado."
The partnership will encompass civil defense and disaster response issues as well as the more traditional military relationships, predicted Feisal. "I think there is a lot that both sides can learn," he said.
"Our strategic interests in the Middle East are enormous, and we have seen by virtue of the State Partnership Program that we can open a lot of doors in terms of common interests," Whitney observed. "We feel it's a great learning opportunity for our United States military, not only the Colorado National Guard, to be involved in relationships with Middle Eastern cultures similar to Jordan."
Colorado, he pointed out, has maintained a partnership with Slovenia since 1993.
"We feel that has been a great success for Slovenia and for the Colorado National Guard. We're looking forward to having that similar success with Jordan," Whitney said.
Slovenia was admitted to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization with six other countries on March 29, three days before Whitney met Feisal to discuss the new partnership between Jordan and Colorado.
"We fly the F-16 and Jordan flies the F-16. We feel that our Air National Guard has similar interests with similar missions," Whitney added. "We have special forces in the Army National Guard. We have aviation in the Army National Guard. Jordan also has those missions within their military organizations. We feel there there's going to be a great opportunity to exchange information."
Jordan has already asked that two of its Army helicopter pilots train at the Colorado Army Guard's High Altitude Army Aviation Training Site, the only one like it in the world, at Eagle County Airport, Whitney said.
Jordan is also familiar with the Air National Guard, because of its exchanges with the 162nd Fighter Wing in Tucson, Ariz.
Eight Jordanian pilots were trained to fly F-16s in Tucson in 1997 and about 50 Jordanian troops received maintenance training there in 1998. Pilots in the 162nd delivered the first F-16s that Jordan purchased from the United States to the Middle East nation in January 2003.
Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994 and is now considered to be one of the countries promoting peace and stability in that part of the world.
Prince Feisal said he hopes that participating in the State Partnership Program will help.
"I wish that this would be the solution to the Arab-Israeli problem and to all of our problems in the Middle East," he said. "In a small way, maybe it can help. We will not know until we try it."
(Army Master Sgt. Bob Haskell is assigned to the National Guard Bureau.)