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Arkansas Guard stays in touch with Guatemalan partners

By 2nd Lt. Charles Davis | Arkansas National Guard | May 7, 2020

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – COVID-19 has affected the way organizations around the globe operate. The Arkansas National Guard is no different, having to cancel a planned March trip to visit Guatemalan military leaders under the National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program. But the planning and partnership needed to continue.

On May 6, the State Partnership Program coordinator, Maj. Alejandro Saenz, orchestrated a video teleconference with key leaders and personnel from the Arkansas National Guard, Arkansas Division of Emergency Management, Arkansas Department of Health, and the Guatemalan military.

The purpose of the video call was for each participating organization to share their roles and responsibilities, current efforts, challenges and future planning considerations.

“This event will create a forum to discuss best practices,” said Saenz. “And lessons learned during the current response to the pandemic.”

The continued efforts of the Arkansas National Guard are to maintain engagement with the partner nation of Guatemala, to demonstrate its strong commitment to the partnership, and to share best practices and lessons learned.

Key leaders on the video call included Col. Derald Neugebauer, domestic operations director, Arkansas National Guard; Greg Brown, ADH incident commander; ADEM Director A.J. Gary; Sr. Norman Rodriguez, incident commander, Guatemalan Coordinating Agency for Disaster Reduction; Col. Carlos Guillermo Siliezar Barrera, Guatemalan Military Hospital director; Col. Norman Garcia, Guatemalan Military Health Unit director; and Col. Solares Santos, Guatemalan Humanitarian and Rescue Battalion commander.

In the next planned engagement with Guatemala, members of the Arkansas National Guard chaplaincy program will talk with their counterparts in the Guatemalan military.

The State Partnership Program has been successfully building relationships for over 25 years. SPP links a unique component of the Department of Defense – a state’s National Guard – with the armed forces or equivalent of a partner country in a cooperative, mutually beneficial relationship.