NEWS | Oct. 5, 2015

Massachusetts National Guard signs state partnership with Republic of Kenya

By 1st Sgt. Don Veitch Massachusetts National Guard

NAIROBI, Kenya - The Massachusetts National Guard and the Republic of Kenya signed a state partnership agreement during a ceremony held at the Kenya Ministry of Defence here, Oct. 1, 2015.

Maj. Gen. L. Scott Rice, adjutant general, Massachusetts National Guard, and Kiritu Miano Wamae, acting principal secretary, Kenya Ministry of Defence, made the state partnership the National Guard’s 76th official during the signing ceremony attended by Cabinet Secretary of Defence Raychelle Omamo, Robert F. Godec, U.S. ambassador to Kenya, and Gen. David M. Rodriguez, commander, U.S. Africa Command.

“This gathering underscores the strong ties of friendship and mutual interests between the Republic of Kenya and the Unites Sates,” said Omamo. It is my sincere hope that this agreement will solidify our partnership and serve our collective vision of peace and security in Kenya and our region.”

The Massachusetts contingent led by Maj. Gen. Rice and Command Sgt. Maj. Carlos Ramos Rivera, state command sergeant major, Massachusetts National Guard, traveled to Kenya for the signing as part of the official delegation responsible for finalizing the agreement with Kenya.

“We couldn’t be more proud to be partnering with the Republic of Kenya,” said Rice. “Our service members will provide mutual benefits to this strategic partnership with the Republic of Kenya. We are excited to exchange ideas and share knowledge to foster an enduring partnership.”

Prior to the official signing the Massachusetts delegation traveled throughout the area and visited numerous sites during the visit including both cultural and military locations. Personnel from the U.S. embassy hosted and guided the Bay State service members on military capabilities tours of the Humanitarian Peace Support School at the International Peace Support Training Centre and Thika Barracks, the home of the Kenya Defence Force’s Engineer Brigade. The delegation finished up its trip to Kenya with a tour of Laikipia Air Base for an overview of Air Force training and operations. The visits to the three military bases gave the Massachusetts Guard a comprehensive overview of the KDF’s abilities to meet both national and regional mission and training requirements.

The Massachusetts contingent also received a cultural exchange tour to the Giraffe Centre and the Nairobi National Park where they were exposed to some of the diverse natural wonders Kenya has to offer.

Massachusetts was selected as the U.S. partner for the Republic of Kenya as part of the Department of Defense’s State Partnership Program, which is managed by the National Guard. Through the State Partnership Program, the Massachusetts National Guard will conduct mutually beneficial engagements in support of defense security cooperation goals and work to strengthen its partner nation’s domestic response capabilities.

“There are a number of things we will be able to accomplish under this partnership, we’ll be able to cooperate, to collaborate, to work in such areas as disaster crisis management, border and aviation security,” said Godec. “Having had the opportunity to see these state partnerships in other countries, I am convinced that it will be of great benefit to both the Kenyan people and the American People.”

The State Partnership Program is administered by the National Guard Bureau, guided by U.S. Department of State foreign policy goals, and supports theater commanders’ security cooperation objectives. The State Partnership Program has been successfully building relationships around the globe for the past 22 years.

Kenya is Massachusetts’ second State Partner; the Paraguay-Massachusetts State Partnership was formalized in 2001. Since its inception, the Massachusetts National Guard has completed over 100 exchanges with Paraguay, ranging from humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to maintenance, emergency management, engineering, and Army and Air Force aviation.

The State Partnership Program helps partner nations build a skilled force capable of helping develop the host nation’s defenses and security, disaster response, crisis management and interagency cooperation capabilities.

“National Guard states have been building enduring relationships for more than 20 years through the State Partnership Program,” said Gen. Frank J. Grass, Chief, National Guard Bureau. “This partnership establishes Kenya as the National Guard’s 76th partner nation and greatly enhances Combatant Commanders’ global security objectives.”

The Massachusetts National Guard’s nomination to partner with Kenya was supported by the Massachusetts governor’s office and several congressional delegates. Additional support came from academia and civic organizations with current Kenyan relationships.

The Massachusetts National Guard has worked very hard to get to this point and is steadfast in its commitment to this partnership.

“We will carry the commitment of this agreement signing forward into the future, not for a few months, not for a few years,” said Rice. “The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, with this agreement, is here, partnered with Kenya, forever. We are very happy to be a part of this.”