CHISINAU, Moldova - The North Carolina National Guard and Moldova Ministry of Defense wrote a new chapter in their State Partnership Program relationship with the first ever Public Affairs office exchange this month.
Army Maj. Matt Handley, the North Carolina National Guard state public affairs officer, met with 12 members of the Moldovan Ministry of Defense Public Affairs Office here at the headquarters to exchange best practices and build mutual cooperation.
The meeting was initiated by Maj. Alexandru Josan, the chief of Public Affairs for the Ministry of Defense.
"We were honored to have Major Handley share his vast experience to the Moldovan public affairs junior officers, because it was an approach solidly grounded in professional practice and creative learning," said Josan. "Public affairs is a delicate dance between finding the right words and projecting the right image.
"In this respect, I'm inclined to believe the seminar helped understand how we can better communicate information about our government or specific agencies to the citizenry, so they can make informed choices."
The five days of seminars involved discussions on the structure of the North Carolina public affairs office, how the North Carolina Guard works with civilian media, uses military journalists in communication programs, and case studies on crisis communications.
The Moldova public affairs office shared their structure and processes as well. The MOD military mass media center, led by Moldovan Lt. Col. Ion Vulpe, produces a 20-minute television show every two weeks, a weekly radio program, and an eight-page newspaper twice a month. They also post news and information to their Website in English and Romanian and maintain the official web log of the MOD.
The public affairs professionals shared examples of their work and gave Handley a complete tour of their facilities.
"This has been a great first step in what I see as long relationship of cooperation in public affairs and military journalism of our two offices," said Handley. "The Moldovan Ministry of Defense public affairs office is very talented and produces some great products."
Handley said all Moldovan public affairs specialists or journalists hold a journalism or public relations degree, have extensive civilian public affairs experience, or a combination of both.
"We found real common ground in many areas and I hope that some of them will visit us in North Carolina in the future." Handley said.
Josan is a graduate of the Public Affairs Officer Qualification Course at the U.S. Department of Defense Information School, the premier training center for all U.S. DoD military journalists, public affairs specialists, artists and broadcasters. A second Moldovan public affairs officer, Maj. Diana Gradinaru, is scheduled to attend the course this summer.
Another public affairs team from the U.S. European Command is scheduled to visit at the end of May to continue the exchange.
Handley and Army Capts. Lance Gaither and Joseph Ljubicic, of the North Carolina Guard's Joint Forces Headquarters, will continue to lay the groundwork for peacekeeping familiarizations that are scheduled for August.
In addition to North Carolina Guardsmen who will work with the Moldovan peacekeeping soldiers, the North Carolina public affairs office will incorporate a public affairs Soldier to cover the event and work jointly with the Moldovan MOD public affairs personnel.
The North Carolina - Moldova Partnership was formalized in 1999 through the NATO State Partnership Program. This program is a Department of Defense initiative, engaging developing democracies around the world and matching them with individual states through military alliances and into civilian commerce based relationships.
This partnership is a bilateral association with planning committees in both North Carolina and the republic of Moldova, who work together in a cooperative effort to improve and enrich the lives of everyone it touches.