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    Retiring Georgia SPP Director reflects on the program’s accomplishments

    Retiring Georgia SPP Director reflects on the program’s accomplishments

    Photo By Maj. Charles Emmons | Brigadier General Matt Smith presents a certificate of retirement to Lieutenant...... read more read more



    Story by Maj. Charles Emmons 

    Georgia National Guard

    Senior leaders, friends, and family of the Georgia Army National Guard gathered to recognize the former Director of the State Partnership Program with the country of Georgia, Lieutenant Colonel Colin Thompson, during his retirement ceremony August 12, 2022, at the Clay National Guard Center in Marietta, Ga. The event celebrated more than 34 years of his distinguished military service.

    Thompson, who was the first enlisted Ga. ARNG Soldier to graduate from U.S. Army Ranger School decades earlier and oversaw multiple initiatives in the country of Georgia over the years, spoke about the importance of his work with the partner nation and some of the highlights from his time as director.

    "Our participation has grown from a few Soldiers to hundreds of Soldiers and whole units over several years that I was either Bilateral Affairs Officer (BAO) or State Partnership Program director," Thompson said. "The state of Georgia is now annually tasked to provide units and the exercise co-director and staff for those high-profile exercises."

    The exercises Thompson referenced include the multilateral, multinational exercises Noble Partner and Agile Spirit in support of U.S. European Command (EUCOM) to advance and strengthen relationships in support of defense in the Euro-Atlantic area.

    Thompson believes these relationships are best fostered by National Guardsmen who remain in positions and provide the continuity that active-duty service members cannot match.

    "Soldiers in the National Guard tend to remain in a state whereas active duty will rotate every two to three years," Thompson said.

    Thompson gave the example the Ga. National Guard's Adjutant General, Major General Thomas Carden Jr., who has maintained a longstanding friendship with the country of Georgia's Major General Nikoloz Janjgava since 1996, when both served as junior officers.

    Thompson spoke about his coordination efforts with the Marietta Fire Department and Walker County Public Safety organizations to provide first responder training in the country of Georgia on swift water rescue and ropes rescue instruction to bolster their humanitarian assistance capabilities in the last two years.

    According to Thompson, the many Georgia to Georgia missions in the 28-year history of the partnership have raised the profile of the Ga. National Guard in all theaters, due to the success of their activities in the country.

    “At least annually, the SPP gets Ga. National Guard leadership in front of leaders in the Department of Defense and the State Department,” Thompson said.

    While the program has had some big wins, a number of challenges remain including mid-year budget threats, while ensuring the proper personnel are assigned to annual exercises.

    “We must balance the needs of the Ga. National Guard as well as that of sending new personnel with experienced ones to maintain and develop that consistent relationship,” Thompson said.



    Date Taken: 08.12.2022
    Date Posted: 08.13.2022 15:39
    Story ID: 427218
    Location: MARIETTA, GA, US 

    Web Views: 71
    Downloads: 1