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NEWS | Sept. 26, 2012

Romanian defense chief visits Alabama National Guard

By Spc. Brenda Thomas Alabama National Guard

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - For the first time in the nearly 20-year partnership between the Alabama National Guard and Romania, that nation's defense chief paid a visit to Alabama.

Lt. Gen. Stefan Danila visited several key locations. Romania's 2nd Infantry Division Commander, Brig. Gen. Nicolae-Ionel Ciuca, and Maj. Lucian Indolean of the Ministry of National Defense-International Affairs accompanied him.

"The Romanians are very interested in exploring how to start a National Guard or Reserve force to reduce their military costs," said Lt. Col. Shannon Hancock, State Partnership Program director.

The National Guard's State Partnership Program 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.

During their partnership, Alabama Guard members have been building a relationship with the Romanians, learning from and teaching each other.

The visitors received briefings and tours at several unit locations across the state, including the Alabama National Guard Joint Force Headquarters, 117th Air Refueling Wing, the 187th Fighter Wing, the 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne), and the Pre-mobilization Training Assistance Element training site at Fort McClellan Army National Guard Training Center. They also met with Alabama's governor, Robert Bentley.

"We are at a point in our partnership where both sides are drawing down from deployments, and both of us need to decide the direction to go to maintain skills and equipment gained during [Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom]," Hancock said

"Alabama's partnership with Romania is critical as that country moves from an all active force to an active/reserve structure that provides a robust military capability while conserving resources," said Brig. Gen. Allen Harrell, Director of the Joint Staff, Alabama National Guard. "The relationship is fruitful for Alabama as well, providing an ongoing opportunity for our soldiers and airmen to work with those of an allied nation and preserve the skills needed to succeed in multinational operations."