News: South Carolina National Guard hosts military delegation from United Arab Emirates
Story by Capt. Jamie Delk
COLUMBIA, S.C. - The South Carolina National Guard welcomed a military delegation from the United Arab Emirates Feb. 3 to tour the Joint Operations Center, McEntire Joint National Guard Base, and McCrady Training Center and learn more about National Guard operations.
Currently, the UAE has a strong interest in establishing their own reserve component force and felt the best way to learn was to see first-hand how it succeeds in the United States. Staff Maj. Gen. Ali Al-Kaabi, Senior Military Adviser to the Crown Prince Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed of the UAE was personally directed to travel to United States and visit a National Guard unit. Because of its outstanding reputation, the S.C. National Guard was selected to host the visitors.
“Maj. Gen. Al-Kaabi came to the USA at Crown Prince Zayed's direction to learn about the National Guard because the National Guard is widely regarded as the best, most experienced and most capable reserve force in the world,” said Dr. John Finney, Special Assistant to the Chief, National Guard Bureau.
Al-Kaabi's visit with the South Carolina National Guard came after his meeting with Gen. Craig McKinley, Chief, National Guard Bureau, Lt. Gen. Bud Wyatt, Director of the Air National Guard and Lt. Gen. Bill Ingram, Director of Army National Guard. These meetings led to visits to the Army and Air National Guard Readiness Centers in Washington D.C., where Al-Kaabi was provided information on the National Guard at the national level.
“General McKinley, recommended the South Carolina National Guard for Maj. Gen. Al-Kaabi's field trip because of the top quality of South Carolina Army National Guard and South Carolina Air National Guard forces, their deep roots in local communities and strong leadership of the Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Bob Livingston,” said Finney. He added the significant experience of the 169th Fighter Wing and its F-16s in the UAE was also a contributing factor.
During the UAE visit, the South Carolina National Guard demonstrated the relevancy of Guard forces. The South Carolina National Guard took this opportunity to build relationships with the UAE delegation, and to support U.S. national interests and security cooperation goals by engaging military to military.
“The National Guard is woven into the fabric of our nation. It’s truly citizens who give up their time to protect the country,” said Livingston, during his welcome briefing. “We come from the community and that is the fabric of our country.”
One main point stressed to the delegation is the advantages the National Guard has over the active component. These being, when not mobilized, the National Guard costs about 1/3 less than the active force; the National Guard brings civilian skills to the table; and when the National Guard goes to war, the sense of community goes with them.
Al-Kaabi and his staff were briefed in areas such as the South Carolina Army National Guard and Air National Guard capabilities, operations, civil support teams, training, schools, and family and service member care.
“This visit to the National Guard Bureau and South Carolina was only the first step in coordination between U.S. and UAE National Guard programs. We hope we will have many other opportunities to visit in the future,” said Staff Col. AbdelRahman Ibrahim AlMazmi, Defense, Military, Naval & Air Attache, Embassy of United Arab Emirates (USA & Canada). “It is our intention to establish a national guard like entity which would be something similar to the one we visited at the National Guard Bureau and South Carolina, but would also be more well suited and tailored toward the UAE specifically.”