WASHINGTON - January's inauguration support by the National Guard was unique in many ways, with more than 26,000 National Guard members activated from all 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia. Among them was an Australian Army reservist, on duty as a Capital Guardian.
Australian Army Capt. Dustin Gold, a reserve officer from the Royal Australian Artillery's 9th Regiment, participates in a Reserve Forces Foreign Exchange Program with D.C. National Guard. Like most reservists, Gold has a full-time civilian job holding a diplomatic posting in Washington, D.C.
Gold, who has previously served on border protection operations and defense assistance to Australia's civil community, has been serving in D.C. National Guard Joint Force Headquarters Plans section for over a year. For the inauguration, Gold served shoulder to shoulder with his American counterparts in the Joint Task Force Headquarters, Current Operations section.
A reciprocal arrangement between the United States, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom enables reservists and Guard members to continue their service while living abroad. The program is an international exchange between reserve NATO forces to cultivate intercultural competence, regional expertise and interoperability.
"When I think about the Australian Army Reserve and how our role has broadened over the last two decades, I can't help but think there is a lot we can continue to learn with our U.S. counterparts, especially D.C. National Guard," said Gold. "Capital Guardsmen can respond to virtually any mission as espoused in the Guard's vision: 'a relevant, resilient and responsive professional joint force ready at a moment's notice for virtually any…mission.'"
Since starting his exchange with the DCNG, Gold has had the opportunity to learn a lot about domestic operations, a growing area of focus for the Australian Army Reserve.
"The DCNG is closely linked with civil organizations; they conduct complex interagency planning and contribute in a visible way to the community," said Gold. "It has been an absolute privilege to serve as an honorary Capital Guardian over the last year and especially supporting such a historic event."
While exchanges between the Reserve Forces of Australia and the United States are less commonplace than their active-duty and full-time counterparts, their value cannot be understated.
"To be able to work in a Joint Task Force Headquarters, coordinating the tasking, movement and logistics support of over 26,000 military personnel is an experience I'll never forget – and one I would not have had without undertaking this exchange," said Gold. "While many of our procedures and training are very similar, the opportunity to exchange different approaches, based on our different experiences, has been of tremendous value."
"Capt. Gold brings invaluable expertise in data collection and management," said Brig. Gen. Robert K. Ryan, commander of the Joint Task Force, D.C. National Guard. "Cross-cultural partnerships allow us to learn from each other and enable D.C. National Guard to always be ready to serve the National Capitol Region whenever we are called. His team-spirit attitude during this mission is evidence of the interoperability within our partner nations."
Gold said, "The relationship between Australia and the United States is more than just an alliance, it is the embodiment of the mateship between our countries." The term mateship, commonly used in Australia, refers to camaraderie and friendship. For Australia and the United States, that friendship has been steadfast for over 100 years, ever since Australian and U.S. forces fought side by side in World War I.