PARAMARIBO, Suriname - Senior leaders from the South Dakota National Guard visited the Republic of Suriname, South Dakota's State Partnership Program nation on Nov. 25 to reinforce the partnership between the SDNG and Suriname military while supporting Suriname's 40th year of independence at its National Day celebration.
South Dakota and Suriname, in coordination with U.S. Southern Command, established a successful security cooperation relationship in 2006 under the National Guard Bureau's State Partnership Program. Since then, numerous exchanges have taken place between the SDNG and Suriname's Defense Forces to share experiences and best practices in a variety of military training and topics.
Maj. Gen. Tim Reisch, the adjutant general of the SDNG, along with State Command Chief Master Sgt. James Welch and State Command Chief Warrant Officer 5 Lonny Hofer began the day at the Ministry of Defense in Paramaribo.
Meeting with Suriname's Minister of Defense Ronni Benschop, Col. Adolf Jardim, the acting commander of the Suriname Defense Forces and Lt. Col. John Antonius, Suriname's head of MoD Strategic Planning and Education, Reisch discussed the success of the nearly 10-year partnership and exchanges and projects moving forward.
"In addition to the exchanges, a priority for me is to bring Soldiers and Airmen serving as carpenters, plumbers and electricians to work side by side with the Suriname Defense Forces on community projects that are beneficial to both South Dakota and Suriname," Reisch said during the meeting. "Projects like repairing schools and clinics provide good training for our Soldiers and Airmen, while improving conditions and morale."
A total of 26 SDNG members went to Suriname on exchanges in 2015, while six members from the Suriname Defense Forces visited South Dakota.
"The partnership between South Dakota and Suriname has been a wonderful one," Jardim said. "We've had many successful exchanges and are looking forward to expanding this relationship even further."
Fourteen exchanges are scheduled in 2016 that will focus on disaster preparedness, improving security, and fostering the promotion of human rights as they relate to a military force.
SDNG senior leaders had an additional opportunity to collaborate on ideas when they next met with personnel from the U.S. Embassy that included Deputy Chief of Mission Valerie Belon and Political/Economic Chief John Gorkowski.
A National Day celebration followed where SDNG leaders had the opportunity to greet Suriname President Desiré Delano Bouterse.