NIANTIC, Conn. – The Connecticut National Guard hosted Uruguayan military officers at Camp Nett to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their State Partnership Program (SPP).
"When we were assigned to work with Uruguay back in 2000 it worked out perfectly," said Capt. Pedro Concolino, director of the State Partnership Program for the Connecticut National Guard. "We have similar populations, similar climate, similar capabilities to the three branches as the Uruguayan military."
Maj. Gen. Miguel Giordano, Uruguayan defense attaché to the U.S.; Col. Hugo Parentini, Uruguayan air attaché to the U.S.; and Capt. Leonardo Luz, Uruguayan naval attaché to the U.S., toured multiple facilities in Connecticut.
"The purpose of the partnership flight tour was to familiarize the Uruguayans with the capabilities we have here in the state as their partner. And also to start a conversation about their interests," said Concolino.
"We are improving our relationship with each other every day in training and in our future exercises. That is important and I am excited for that," said Luz. "It's very important that we see the maintenance for aviation because what they do here is incredible, so we learn from that."
Concolino said Connecticut Guard members have helped the Uruguayans develop their military working dog program. "Just this year Uruguay was assigned to a peacekeeping mission, and it will be their first time they are deploying working dogs," he said.
As part of the anniversary celebration the Capitán Miranda, a tall ship Uruguayan Navy training vessel, docked at the New London pier.
"This is the first time it's back in the United States, specifically Connecticut, since 2000," Concolino said. "That is a momentous occasion because there is a long heritage of ships serving as vehicles of diplomacy."
"We have been in a partnership for 20 years, so we know each other, said Giordano. "We share knowledge and training, and when we come here, we are very well treated. We are more than partners. We are friends."