FRANKFORT, Ky. – Kentucky National Guard leaders welcomed Ecuadorian military and political leaders last month for the most significant Ecuadorian delegation visit to the United States in over a decade.
“The event was an incredible success,” said Lt. Col. Daniel Cooper, the Kentucky National Guard State Partnership Program director. “Between 2017 and 2019, we made significant strides to rebuild the partnership with Ecuador. Though COVID slowed us down, this event was pivotal to rebuilding the relationships the program provides.”
The Kentucky National Guard began a working relationship with Ecuador in 1996 through the State Partnership Program.
The SPP conducts military-to-military engagements to support defense security goals and leverage whole-of-society relationships in military, government, economic and social spheres.
“The key leader engagement completed long-held goals for the Kentucky National Guard and Ecuadorian Armed Forces,” said Capt. Joshua Selby, Kentucky National Guard bilateral affairs officer for Ecuador. “Both military organizations wanted to create a long-range training event schedule for the fiscal year 2023 and 2024. They can do that by signing a memorandum of understanding detailing each other’s roles and responsibilities, a first for this partnership.”
The four-day engagement began in Frankfort March 28, with both parties briefing on their current engagements. The groups then toured the Army Aviation Support Facility and the Kentucky State Capitol.
The next day, the Air Guard hosted a tour and lunch at the 123rd Air Wing in Louisville. To share Kentucky culture with Ecuadorian leadership, the groups toured the Derby Museum at Churchill Downs and Peerless Distillery.
“It’s a different level of relationship-building when senior leaders from both organizations are present and able to share each other’s culture,” said Cooper. “The State Partnership Program tries to ensure at least one key leader engagement annually. Being that this is the first in-person conference in over a decade made it extremely important to establish lifelong relationships between people and organizations.”
On the third day, the groups were transported by UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters to the Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center and greeted by the 238th Reginal Training Institute cadre and leadership.
Ecuadorian leaders learned about the Officer Candidate School process and other training functions the base provides, such as the weapons qualification ranges and the process by which Kentucky Soldiers prepare.
At the end of the conference, the Guard and Ecuadorian forces signed a memorandum of understanding outlining how they will develop their relationship.
“The significance of our partnership is to share the knowledge of the Ecuadorian Armed Forces and their experiences,” said General Orlando Fabian Fuel Revelo, chief of the Joint Command of the Armed Forces, Ecuador. “In the same way, receive all the experience that the United States military has to offer — especially the Kentucky National Guard, who specializes in providing support for emergency management, logistics, and providing leadership training.
“It has been an honor, as an Ecuadorian soldier, to have shared this time with all of you. We thank you in advance for the support our soldiers will receive from you during the next three years now that we have signed this agreement,” Revelo said.