CAMP JOHNSON, Vt. – The Vermont National Guard will welcome the Republic of Austria as its third partner under the State Partnership Program.
The partnership was announced as part of U.S.-Austria Defense Talks held Oct. 15 at the Pentagon in Washington between delegations from the Department of Defense and the Austrian Ministry of Defense. Austria will join North Macedonia and Senegal as partners with Vermont under the State Partnership Program.
"This new strategic partnership is a testament to the respect the Vermont National Guard has earned in Washington, D.C., and around the world," said Vermont Gov. Phil Scott. "I am excited to see our new partnership with Austria develop, because as we've seen, not only does the State Partnership Program support military efforts, but economic and cultural relations as well."
Austria and Vermont have a long relationship that goes beyond the Von Trapps' emigration to Vermont in World War II, a journey made famous by the 1965 film, "The Sound of Music." Since 1983, the Vermont National Guard's Army Mountain Warfare School, U.S. Army Biathlon Program and the 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain) have partnered with their military counterparts in Austria.
"Similarities between Vermont's terrain as well as its economic and agricultural industries make the creation of a formal partnership with Austria full of opportunities," said Maj. Gen. Greg Knight, the state adjutant general. "This provides the perfect chance to replicate the whole of government relationship as we have with North Macedonia and hope to bring to Senegal soon, using our military relationships as a springboard to further civic engagement and business cooperation."
In addition to shared mountain expertise, the Vermont National Guard has performed trilateral events with Senegal and Austria for six years through the Physical Security and Stockpile Management Program, focused on safe munitions storage and disposal of expired munitions. This program is designed to train and mentor partner countries and prevent disasters like the one recently experienced in Beirut.
The Vermont National Guard and North Macedonia's state partnership began in 1994 and has included over 350 military-to-military activities, including collaborative events in Europe and the United States and a shared deployment to Afghanistan in 2010. The Senegal and Vermont National Guard partnership originated in 2008 and has included engagements in disaster management and domestic response, force management, peace and stability operations, and intensive medical exercises.
The Vermont National Guard is now just the fifth Guard with as many as three state partners. Knight acknowledged this partnership is a testament to the success of the robust relationships sustained over the course of the program.
"This is a result of the hard work and dedication of our members participating in events with our host nations," he said. "Their efforts made partnership with Austria a reality."