Alabama National Guard strengthens partnership with Romania

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Members of the Romanian Land Force along with Alabama National Guard Soldiers visit the Alabama Capitol building in Montgomery, Ala., Feb. 22, 2012. (Photo by Spc. Brenda N. Thomas)

MONTGOMERY, AL (02/28/2012)(readMedia)-- This year marks Alabama and Romania's 19th year of partnership in the National Guard's State Partnership Program, a program that pairs developing allied armed forces with a state National Guard for mentoring and training. This federally funded program allows Alabama National Guard personnel to train with their Romanian counterparts at no cost to the state.

"The partnership between Alabama and Romania has helped Alabama National Guard Soldiers build a knowledge base at the international level," said Lt. Col. Shannon Hancock, State Partnership Program Director. "The world is so international now and we deploy to various theaters of operation and don't just stay in Alabama or the South anymore. This helps our Soldiers gain knowledge about other countries and areas, prior to deploying."

A group of Romania's Land Force visited Alabama in February as part of the program. They visited the armory that houses the 231st Military Police Battalion and exchanged information regarding military vehicles and small arms policies and procedures. Their visit was culturally enriched by a visit to several historical sites in Prattville and a tour of the Capitol building in Montgomery, providing a brief look into some of Alabama's state history.

"We conduct exchanges of information that help develop both our Alabama National Guard and the Romania military," said Hancock. "A long term trusting relationship like [this] cannot be cultivated over night."

"One of the most valuable things about the Guard is our ability to establish and maintain strong partnerships," said Air Force Gen. Craig McKinley, chief of the National Guard Bureau, recently in a speech about National Guard partnerships. "Partnerships are what make the National Guard what we are – whether it's our partnership with our parent services, ... our partnership with foreign nations in the State Partnership Program ... or our partnership with local authorities and civilians in communities across the country."

Today, 48 U.S. states, two territories, and the District of Columbia are partnered with 63 partner affiliations around the world.