MONROVIA, Liberia, - Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf
said she is "pleased" about establishing a military partnership program with
the U.S. state of Michigan.
Johnson-Sirleaf received delegations from the Michigan National Guard, the
U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), and U.S. Embassy October 27, 2010, to
inaugurate Liberia's State Partnership Program (SPP) with Michigan.
"The strength of the partnership is the relationship we build," Air Force
Maj. Gen. Thomas Cutler, the adjutant general of the Michigan National Guard,
told Johnson-Sirleaf during a breakfast meeting at her residence. "We see the
partnership as a long-term relationship."
The meeting also wrapped up a three-day visit to Liberia by an AFRICOM
delegation led by Ambassador J. Anthony Holmes, the command's deputy to the
commander for civil-military activities.
Holmes, accompanied by James Hart, AFRICOM's deputy director for programs,
looked at security force assistance activities AFRICOM conducts in this West
Africa nation, which continues reconstruction efforts after 14 years of civil
war that ended in 2003.
In January 2010, AFRICOM started a five-year mentoring and advising mission
with the Armed Forces of Liberia. It is also working to assist with the
development of the recently re-activated Liberian Coast Guard.
Liberia is the eighth African nation to establish a military partnership with
a U.S. state. The program has been in existence since for 20 years and
currently pairs 62 nations worldwide with a U.S. state.
It is designed to establish long-term relationships in which U.S. states and
their partnered nations share best practices and expert knowledge in a range
of areas and promote bilateral relations.
Michigan has also been a partner with the Baltic nation Latvia since 1992.
Because Guardsmen are commonly referred to as "citizen-soldiers," they bring
unique experiences as both military service members and professionals in
their full-time careers in other fields, such as medicine, emergency response
"The relationship on the civilian side is why I was so enamored with the
program," U.S. Ambassador to Liberia Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the
president. "They have other careers and jobs and can bring that experience to
Cutler also presented to the president a certificate of tribute signed by
Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm that recognizes the partnership between
Michigan and Liberia.
"We are looking forward to this," Johnson-Sirleaf said. "I hope we can really
build the relationship and point to something that ... we can say came out of