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Home : News : State Partnership Program
NEWS | March 8, 2010

Hungary, Serbia leaders meet with Ohio Guard

By Dr. Mark Wayda Ohio National Guard

DUBLIN, Ohio, - Since the early 1990s, state National Guards have responded to an evolving international affairs mission.

The State Partnership Program, matching state National Guards with the militaries of countries around the world, now consists of 62 partnerships. The Ohio National Guard has been partnered with Hungary since 1993 and with Serbia since 2006.

On Feb. 26, delegations from Serbia and Hungary, led by Hungarian Chief of Defense Gen. László Tömböl and Serbian Chief of the Armed Forces General Staff Lt. Gen. Miloje Miletić arrived in Central Ohio for trilateral discussions with their mutual partner, Maj. Gen. Gregory L. Wayt, the adjutant general of the Ohio National Guard.

On Feb. 27, both men addressed several hundred of the top Ohio National Guard senior officers and non-commissioned officers at the state's annual Joint Commanders Call.

"(It) is an opportunity for the most senior leadership of Ohio's Army and Air National Guards to come together to achieve a common understanding of the most important issues facing the National Guard," Wayt said. "I invited the generals to speak here today, because our international partners are critical stakeholders, and core competencies include continuing to grow as valued partners to them."

Both men spoke of the value of the professional connections between their Soldiers and Airmen and those of the Ohio National Guard, but both spoke also of the personal relationships that have developed over the years and how those relationships transcend any specific operational issues.

Maj. Steven Shilliday, the director of the State Partnership Program for Ohio, explained some of the many projects and events Ohio participates in jointly with its partners.

"The Hungarian partnership has been going on for much longer," Shilliday said, and that may be one reason that the partnership events have evolved into the operational realm.

"Ohio National Guard Soldiers are deploying with Hungarian soldiers in Operational Mentoring and Liaison Teams, training the Afghan National Army," he said. "But the relationship with Serbia is also evolving very quickly. Just last summer, Soldiers and Airmen from Ohio spent more than a month performing a humanitarian mission-rehabilitating several school houses-with their Serbian partners."

Hundreds of Soldiers and Airmen from Ohio, Hungary and Serbia have participated in dozens of partnership events just in the past three years.

"Each one of those Soldiers and Airmen have learned from each other and become better at what they do because of the exposure to new ways of thinking and new ways of doing things inherent in these parthership exchanges," Wayt said. "I cannot thank enough Gen. Tömböl and Lt. Gen. Miletić for being here to share their perspectives on our partnerships with Ohio's most senior leaders."