News: State Partnership Program continues to grow in North Carolina
Story by Capt. Matthew Boyle
RALEIGH, N.C. - North Carolina National Guard Soldiers and Airmen showed their hometown service and global reach by recently deploying to Africa and Europe for a series of exercises with both of its State Partnership Program members, Moldova and Botswana.
Six Moldova Special Forces personnel teamed up with NCNG Soldiers of B Company, 1st Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group for fast rope rappelling and High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) parachute jumps during B Company’s drill weekend, Feb. 6–9, at the Stanly County Airport, N.C.
After careful inspections by leaders and countless checks and rechecks of equipment, the soldiers prepared for the HALO jump. The fields of the airport were soon home to the roar of aircraft engines and the rustle of parachutes as Soldiers glided to the ground after a long free fall.
This January and early February, Moldovan forces and NCNG’s A Company, 120th Combined Arms Battalion deployed to Joint Multinational Readiness center in Hohenfels, Germany, for peacekeeping operations training. The Soldiers conducted simulated joint border patrols and convoys with fellow NATO forces.
Moldovan and NATO Soldiers marched in columns ahead of Humvees during a presence patrol along a snowy road. Leaders scoured maps planning the next part of the exercise. Moldovan soldiers fanned out atop a small hill operating an observation post over watching a simulated border. Additionally, they partnered with the Georgian army in direct action engagements. Separately, the Moldovan army conducted a live fire shoot house and a static line parachute jump.
In March, the Moldovan National Army deployed in support of the UN Security Council as a Peacekeeping Force in Kosovo. This deployment demonstrates the Republic of Moldova’s commitment to quality relationships and mutual partnerships with the international community.
In a statement from the deputy chief of U.S. Mission in Republic of Moldova, Kara McDonald, the deployment of 41 soldiers will give the Moldovan National Army real-world knowledge and actionable lessons learned. This will help the Moldovan armed forces further their abilities and increase operability with other nations.
“The contribution of Moldova to this mission demonstrates the fact that Moldova is internationally recognized as a capable and qualified actor for multinational peacekeeping missions. A well-trained army that is ready for the mission is a reason of pride for Moldovan citizens,” Kara McDonald stated.
In Chisinau, the capital of Moldova, NCNG Special Forces soldiers conducted classes on the Military Decision Making Process and the Carver Matrix, as well as impromptu instruction on Special Forces recruiting, selection and SF specific skill development.
In March, Airmen of the NCNG’s 145th Airlift Wing collaborated with Moldovan signal and communication soldiers to develop and implement common tactics for cyber defense. This partnership has improved Moldovan cyber risk management and strengthened information security.
These exercises showcase Moldova’s ability to learn and share high-level tactical skills. It also keeps both countries ready to cooperate on missions and exchange best practices learned after years of training and deployments.
The Botswana Defence Force leaders with their NCNG partners focused on BDF noncommissioned officer and commissioned development and refining its anti-poaching operations.
During an open forum at Force Training Establishment in Gaborone, NCNG leaders joined in discussions on BDF NCO development and professionalism, Feb. 17-21. Topics included education for junior to senior NCO progression, developing an evaluation and reporting system, career progression including battle staff and other duties and responsibilities. The BDF staff was very receptive to the discussions, asking questions concerning the material and how it could benefit their NCO corp.
Army Maj. Veronica Alston and Army staff Sgt. Crystal Fisher brought their years of NCNG field medical unit know-how a medical conference with 21 BDF members. They exchanged best practices on medical support, field hospital operations and all aspects of field medical procedures from immediate first aid delivered at the scene to basic primary care, medical evacuation and higher levels of care.
Army Capt. Michael Sterling and Army Master Sgt. Billy Green with NCNG’s 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team conducted a seminar with Botswana military, police, customs and immigration officials Feb. 3-7 in Gaborone. The NCNG experts with their Botswana counterparts adapted U.S. deployment and operational lessons learned to local border operations.
The seminar included BDF general officers who discussed training needs and the military decision making process for joint civil/military joint missions. Their goal was to improve Botswana counter poaching, narcotics and human trafficking operations.
Sterling and Green built on this success with officers and enlisted members of the BDF Training Center cadre for a five-day urban operations seminar. The lessons covered civil/military joint operations, Botswana Constitutional Law, the Law of War, and best tactics, techniques and procedures of urban combat.
Several BDF leaders including junior officers and noncommissioned officers used the lessons learned during practical exercises designed to test the students’ knowledge. The noncommissioned officers improved their operational knowledge and planning. Junior officers led the decision process and produced feasible courses of action during the scenario and briefed their senior noncommissioned officers on the mission. The senior noncommissioned officers served as platoon leaders under the mentorship of NCNG and senior BDF leaders.
After the missions, everyone discussed what worked and provided constructive criticism to improve their troop leadership.
North Carolina got to be a host to Botswana Ambassador Tebelelo Mazile Seretse, the first female ambassador of Botswana to the United States, when she visited North Carolina for three days in promotion of Botswana and North Carolina’s close partnership.
She visited NCNG North Carolina National Guard Joint Forces Headquarters in search of new ways to continue to fight poaching in Botswana. Botswana has a diverse and sought-after tourist destination, the Okavango Delta, which has the largest population of elephants in Africa.
Army Maj. Clay Jackson, State Partnership Program coordinator, briefed the ambassador on AFRICOM techniques for protecting wildlife from poachers including the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) to better survey large areas of elephant habitat.
“Botswana has been a major leader in anti-poaching, and we hope that our work with the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) will be a beacon to other countries,” said Jackson.
Army Maj. Gen. Greg Lusk, adjutant general of North Carolina met with the ambassador to discuss poaching issues, the efforts of Botswana’s president in protecting wildlife and the ongoing relationship between the Guard and her country.
After deploying to two continents and multiple countries in two months, sharing a decade of combat experience and many more of hard earned stateside disaster response knowledge, the NCNG lived up to their motto “Always Ready, Always There."