Their mission is improving the global security cooperation program joining state National Guards with partner countries in a mutually beneficial association currently supporting 76 countries on four continents.
"We are in the business of relationships that work," said U.S. Air Force Col. Nathan Thomas, a leader with the Ohio National Guard and chief, international affairs division, National Guard Bureau (NGB).
There was a constant clicking of laptop keyboards and scribbling of notes as the experts engaged in a frank, animated discussion sharing decades of experience from missions with foreign civil and military leaders in a rapidly changing strategic environment.
"This is exactly what I wanted to have happen," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. David Johnson, a NGB leader. Johnson has been involved in the program since 2007 with the Georgia Air National Guard.
Working groups, presentations, question and answer sessions on program leadership, funding and missions filled the busy schedule.
"It is sharing best practices and ideas," said U.S. Army Col. Jeff Copeland, a North Carolina National Guard leader representing the North Carolina's program currently partnered with Moldova and Botswana.
The SPP brings Guard leaders together with host nation civil, military, economic and social leaders supporting defense and security cooperation around the world.
"Our trust and friendships continue to grow and evolve," said Copeland.
The partnerships provide critical cost effective enduring relationships enabling U.S. foreign policy goals to be achieved.
"If something happens, we want someone in the neighborhood to let us in," said Thomas.
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