Thursday, December 4, 2008

Oregon Guard forms partnership with key South Asian country

The Oregon National Guard recently established a partnership with one of the most populous, and according to the U.S. State Department, one of the more strategically-located countries in South Asia.

On Oct. 25-30, a delegation from the Oregon National Guard visited the country of Bangladesh, and met with senior Bangladeshi military and civilian leaders to discuss a formal partnership between Oregon and the South Asian country.
"This is a chance for Oregon to reach out and share expertise in nation-building and to promote democracy and support foreign policy," said Brig. Gen. Bruce Prunk, Assistant Adjutant General-Air, for the Oregon Air National Guard.

One of the people who spearheaded the effort was Maj. Daniel Schilling, Commander of the 125th Special Tactics Squadron, Oregon Air National Guard.

“The State Partnership Program itself is designed to cross a broader spectrum of military-to-civilian cooperation and civilian-to-civilian cooperation. One of the things the Oregon National Guard brings is the ability to transcend the traditional military-only partnership,” Schilling said.
He went on to cite a prime example of just that kind of cooperation.

“One of our partnership initiatives is an establishment of community policing projects [in Bangladesh],” he said. “We have quite a few members of the Oregon Guard who are sheriffs, police officers and firefighters and we can take these people on military orders over there and work with civil and military authorities to establish these initiatives.”

This new relationship is an historic one said Brig. Gen. Prunk.

"This is the first formal relationship between any country and Oregon," he said. "I think it's very exciting for Oregon to establish a long-term relationship with a very strategic partner."

According to Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, the Adjutant General for Oregon, the Oregon National Guard can benefit from Bangladesh's skills and experience in peacekeeping operations with the United Nations.

"Bangladesh is the second most prolific contributor to UN peacekeeping operations," he said.
Bangladesh is an active member of the Global Peace Operations Initiative, organized by the U.S. Institute of Peace, which is chartered with promoting post-conflict stability and development throughout the world, as well as assisting with amicable resolution to international conflicts.

Another important component to the partnership, according to Maj. Gen. Rees, is Bangladesh's experience with natural disasters. In particular, the Bangladesh government is interested in Oregon's emergency preparedness and response plan, he said.

"We can share information on these capabilities," Maj. Gen. Rees added.

The Bangladeshi partnership comes out of a meeting in early 2008 in Hawaii, between U.S. Navy Admiral Timothy J. Keating, Commander of U.S. Pacific Command, Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, Chief of the National Guard Bureau, and Maj. Gen. Rees, where they discussed a formal partnership between Oregon and Bangladesh.

"Adm. Keating's vision of Bangladesh's strategic role and location was instrumental as a catalyst for the partnership," Maj. Gen. Rees said.

According to both Brig. Gen. Prunk and Maj. Gen. Rees, officials in both Oregon and in Bangladesh are currently outlining key areas they will focus on over the next few years. Another Oregon delegation plans to visit Bangladesh in early 2009 to discuss further details to the partnership.
Story by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
Oregon National Guard New Media Manager

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