GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, GERMANY – 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, a senior National Guard official said Feb. 5.
Gen. Craig R. McKinley, chief of the National Guard Bureau, speaking to students here at the George C. Marshall European Center for European Security Studies, said the Guard now has 60 state partnerships throughout the 50 states, three territories, and the District of Columbia.
“Their governors and their adjutants general, who run their militaries, have all formed working partnerships with nations in the various corners of the world.”
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,” said McKinley.
The partnership between California and Ukraine, which started over 15 years ago, is a perfect example. In an effort to bolster their disaster readiness and response, Ukraine sent representatives to the state in November to participate in Vigilant Guard, a weeklong emergency-response training exercise hosted by the California Guard.
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.
Last July, especially heavy rains brought a record deluge there, causing the worst damage financially 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 use their free time to forge new relationships with each other, which 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, he 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.