FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. – The Pennsylvania National Guard hosted Lithuanian dignitaries during a Dec. 14 visit as part of the National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program.
Lithuania and Pennsylvania have been partners under the program for almost 29 years. The SPP is guided by State Department foreign policy goals and facilitates military-to-military engagements. These engagements help build relationships between the United States and foreign nations.
Arvydas Anušauskas, the Lithuanian minister of national defence, and Audra Plepytė, Lithuanian ambassador to the United States, visited Fort Indiantown Gap and met with Pennsylvania National Guard leaders including Maj. Gen. Mark Schindler, adjutant general.
“As we embark on the 29th year of our strong partnership, we are excited to continue our journey together and realize the new accomplishments we will achieve that mutually improve both of our organizations,” said Schindler. “Despite the known and unknown challenges we may encounter in our present day, given the complex operating environment, we have the trust and confidence that Lithuania and Pennsylvania will stand together through it all.”
Brig. Gen. Laura McHugh, deputy adjutant general-Army, and Brig. Gen. Mark Goodwill, assistant adjutant general-Air, also participated in the meeting.
Discussion included future initiatives between Lithuania and the Pennsylvania National Guard and a reaffirmation of the commitment between the two partners to deter common threats.
Pennsylvania Guard leaders took the official Lithuanian party on a tour of Fort Indiantown Gap, which included capability briefings on a Stryker armored vehicle and a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. They then took an hour-long aerial tour in the helicopter around Fort Indiantown Gap and the Harrisburg area.
Earlier in the week, Anušauskas met with U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III at the Pentagon. They signed a reciprocal defense procurement agreement to improve conditions for mutual industrial cooperation, acquisition of defense items and increased interoperability between the U.S. and Lithuanian Armed Forces.
“As a representative of one of the most exposed to Russia threat regions, I would like to underline how much the U.S. friendship and support mean to us,” said Anušauskas. “Our countries are united by common defense commitment and common values, which are challenged every day.”