State partnerships thriving for Kentucky Guard

By Capt. Aaron VanSickle, Kentucky National Guard State Partnership Program

Sgt. 1st. Class Garry Petty, fire support NCO, assigned to HHB, 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery, Kentucky National Guard and members of the Djiboutian Artillery Regiment observe the impact of an 155mm round from a M109A6 Paladin during a live fire exercise at Fort Knox, Kentucky, Aug. 20, 2016. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Michael Reinersman)

Sgt. 1st. Class Garry Petty, fire support NCO, assigned to HHB, 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery, Kentucky National Guard and members of the Djiboutian Artillery Regiment observe the impact of an 155mm round from a M109A6 Paladin during a live fire exercise at Fort Knox, Kentucky, Aug. 20, 2016. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Michael Reinersman)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — As the Kentucky National Guard closed out its annual training season and prepared for a new fiscal year, its State Partnership Program kicked into gear with three military exchanges.

Kentucky Soldiers played host to members of Djibouti’s military Aug. 16-24 for a tour of military operations in the commonwealth. The field artillery Soldiers visited the 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery in the field at Fort Knox, Kentucky for a live-fire exercise. Djibouti recently acquired the M-109 howitzer and is looking to develop an artillery program of instruction for their Soldiers. The visit allowed participants to discuss numerous options for future training opportunities with Kentucky and Djibouti.

“This was a great event, very useful to see how a U.S. artillery battalion operates,” said Lt. Col. Mohammed, Djibouti Artillery Regiment commander. “The Kentucky National Guard has great expertise with the M-109, and we look forward to working with them in the future to enhance our own capabilities.”

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In a unique joint venture, Kentucky Soldiers and Airmen traveled to Djibouti Sept. 17-21 for an Air Force security cooperation orientation.

The Kentuckians met with leaders from the Djiboutian Air Force to participate in discussions of aircraft operations and maintenance processes, procedures and lessons-learned within their respective air forces. The assessment that the Kentucky Guardsmen conducted of the Djiboutian Air Force served to evaluate both fixed and rotary wing aviation assets, training programs, maintenance and logistics procedures and capabilities. Information from this visit will be used to develop future engagements.

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Kentucky then welcomed officials from the Ecuador National Disaster Management Agency Sept. 19-23 in Frankfort.

Secretario de Gestion de Riesgos traveled to Kentucky to meet with members of the Kentucky Office of Emergency Management and the Kentucky Guard. The Ecuadorians observed the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program (CSEPP) exercise that KYEM conducted.

The Ecuadorians were able to observe how Kentucky would handle a massive disaster response and our coordination between multiple levels of government. This could serve useful to them given the tragic earthquake that affected Ecuador earlier this year.

KYEM personnel and Guardsmen were able to hear SNGR experiences on how they dealt with the earthquake, which was of benefit to KYNG/KYEM as we are in the process of updating the current New Madrid Seismic Zone response plan.

“This exercise covered all of our expectations, and we are very excited to be working with Kentucky again,” said Jorge Martínez, Under Secretary for Preparation and Response to Adverse Events. “This is my second time to Kentucky, the first being many years ago, and I’m impressed by the how KYEM does business. I hope that this is a beginning to future collaboration between our organizations.”

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Kentucky’s incoming SPP coordinator, Maj. Lawrence Carta said the exchanges were just a small taste of what’s hopefully to come.

“These visits are solid reminders of Kentucky’s dedication to our state partners and the mission of the program to build relationships and benefit from military to military engagements as well as government to government exchanges,” he said.

“The Kentucky National Guard will do we can to ensure these partnerships thrive.”