NEWS | June 15, 2021

Michigan National Guard, Latvia strengthen partnership

By 2nd Lt. Ashley Goodwin, Michigan National Guard

GRAND LEDGE, Mich. – Leaders of the Latvian National Armed Forces toured Michigan National Guard facilities throughout the state last month in the latest engagement in their 28-year partnership under the State Partnership Program.

The SPP was created to foster such relationships and is an official collaboration between the National Guard Bureau, the Department of Defense and the State Department. The Michigan-Latvia partnership was one of the first three bilateral relationships – along with Pennsylvania/Lithuania and Maryland/Estonia – formalized April 27, 1993.

Latvian representatives visiting Michigan May 25-26 included Māris Selga, ambassador of the Republic of Latvia to the United States of America; Latvian National Armed Forces Maj. Gen. Andis Dilāns and Col. Ilze Žilde, defense attachés; and Rolands Heniņš, defense counselor. They met with U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul Rogers, adjutant general and director of the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, and senior leaders with the Michigan National Guard.

The leaders discussed personnel exchanges, continued cooperation, and participation in large-scale global exercises such as Northern Strike, the Michigan National Guard’s annual joint fires readiness event.

The Latvians toured the Army Aviation Support Facility #1 in Grand Ledge, Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center and Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center.

“This successful and well-organized visit to the National Guard of Michigan underlines the positive progress of our common goals and our close friendship. Latvia is proud to have Michigan side by side for all these years,” said Selga. “This visit gave us a chance to identify even more opportunities for future collaboration in the broad area of issues. We are leaving Michigan very inspired about that and looking forward to coming back again soon.”

U.S. Army Col. Raymond Stemitz discussed the Kelly Johnson Joint All-Domain Innovation Center at Selfridge Air National Guard Base near Detroit, which opened in September. The KJJADIC was created to help military planners solve problems affecting the warfighter.

The day continued with a tour of AASF#1, which provided an overview of daily flight operations, safety procedures and aircraft maintenance.

U.S. Army Col. Jeffrey M. Laing, director of aviation and safety, 3rd Battalion, 238th Aviation Regiment, General Support Aviation Battalion, Michigan Army National Guard, discussed the opportunity for Michigan aviation units to participate in small unit exchanges and a collective exercise.

The National All-Domain Warfighting Center hosts one of the largest National Guard and Reserve components’ exercises on the 148,000 acres of training space and 17,000 square miles of special-use airspace, which extends over Lake Huron. Spanning across CGJMTC and Alpena CRTC, NADWC facilitates joint all-domain training objectives of participating units.

The Michigan-Latvia partnership will train in joint operations at Northern Strike 21(NS). The Latvian contingent will include joint terminal attack controllers, joint forward observers, and a special operations team.

The Latvian delegates and MING leadership toured the CGJMTC by air in UH-60 Black Hawk and UH-72 Lakota helicopters.