HANOI, Vietnam - Brig. Gen. Michael E. Stencel, the adjutant general of Oregon, participated as the senior U.S. representative during an Oct. 21 ribbon cutting ceremony for the grand opening of an intermediate school in Phu Tinh Village in the Quang Nam Province of Vietnam.
The school was built in cooperation between the U.S. and Vietnam and has a secondary-use as a shelter during natural disasters.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Pacific Command, and the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam collaborated in efforts to help make the new school project possible.
The school's dual-use function as an emergency shelter has special significance to the Oregon National Guard as a State Partner with Vietnam's National Committee for Disaster, Incident Response, and Search and Rescue (VINASARCOM) through U.S. Pacific Command and Vietnam Bilateral Defense Dialog.
As state partners, the Oregon National Guard works closely with VINASARCOM to mutually bolster disaster response capabilities in Vietnam.
Since 2009, the U.S. Government, through the Overseas Humanitarian Disaster Assistance and Civic Action Program, has spent more than $16 million in constructing schools, clinics and bridges in many towns and villages throughout Vietnam.
In the same period, the U.S. Agency for International Development has provided more than $8 million for disaster risk-reduction activities. This year, the United States has committed to spend $5 million to continue humanitarian assistance projects like this school in Vietnam.
The relationship between VINASARCOM and the Oregon National Guard as state partners and the lead military agencies for emergency management in their respective country and state was established in September 2011 with a memorandum of understanding to advance bilateral defense cooperation through U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) and Vietnam Bilateral Defense Dialogue (BDD).
The relationship recognizes that building and maintaining capabilities as emergency managers in times of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) is for the benefit of all countries and promotes stability, prosperity and domestic resiliency in the entire region.
This year marks the 20th Anniversary of normalized diplomatic relations between Vietnam and The United States.