Kentucky Guard begins new partnership with Djibouti

Story by Allison Crawford, WKMS – Murray State University

Defense de Djibouti

Sgt. Tiffany Anestis with the 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery hands out supplies to local civilians during the unit’s deployment to Djibouti and the Horn of Africa, Dec. 11, 2012. Kentucky Guard leadership said the relationships built during the 2/138th deployment helped pave the way for the new partnership. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Alexa Becerra)

The Kentucky National Guard is beginning a new partnership with Djibouti to support defense security cooperation goals. The National Guard State Partnership Program works to develop military and civilian relationships with a variety of state partners. Spokesman Lt. Col. Kirk Hilbrecht said this could include training and assistance with things like security, emergency management and building schools.

The partnership includes personnel exchanges between the two countries.  But Hilbrecht said it’s about more than just skills and training.

“It is a true cultural exchange. And for them to really get a great taste of Kentucky, they’ll have to come here. And likewise, people who will be working with the Djiboutians will have to go to Djibouti. And we look forward to exchanges on both sides,” Hilbrecht said.

Hilbrecht said the partnership is meant to benefit both guardsmen and Djiboutians.

“It becomes something pretty cool when you say, ‘hey, we’re not just knocking down doors but we’re opening up hearts and minds by working with state partners like Djiboutians where they are really looking at us as… many things, not just military but also civilians. But again it helps us become more rounded individuals,” Hilbrecht said.

Guardsmen travel to Djibouti in June to formalize the new partnership. Hilbrecht said once Djiboutian needs and requests are determined, the guard will set up personnel exchanges.

Hilbrecht said the Kentucky Guard has had a successful partnership with Ecuador since 1996. The Guard will maintain its partnership with Ecuador while taking on the new partnership with Djibouti.

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