South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston Jr., the adjutant general for South Carolina National Guard, announce the commencement of South Carolina National Guard's state partnership with the Republic of Colombia, July 23, 2012. Colombian Vice Minister of Defense Jorge Enrique Bedoya and Gov. Haley signed the partnership proclamation establishing this historic bilateral relationship prior to the press conference. Photo by Staff Sgt. Tracci Dorgan
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Colombian Vice Minister of Defense Jorge Enrique Bedoya signed a partnership proclamation July 23 formally establishing a bilateral relationship between South Carolina and the Republic of Colombia in the National Guard’s State Partnership Program.
The signing and announcement were made during a ceremony at the South Carolina statehouse. Distinguished visitors from Colombia, the Colombian Embassy in Washington D.C., the United States Embassy in Bogotá, U.S. Southern Command, the National Guard Bureau and the South Carolina National Guard were on hand to witness this historic occasion.
The National Guard’s State Partnership Program links U.S. states with partner countries for the purposes of supporting the objectives and goals of the geographic combatant commander and the U.S. Ambassador. The SPP promotes national security objectives, country and regional stability, partner nation capacity, and improved understanding and trust throughout the world.
“This is a historic day in South Carolina. We have a new friend and partner. We look forward to strengthening our relationship with Colombia and we look forward to all we are able to share,” Haley said.
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the National Guard’s State Partnership Program.
The bilateral relationship between South Carolina and Colombia is the 64th state partnership in the program’s history. With the addition of Colombia, there are a now a total of 22 SPP relationships with 28 countries in the U.S. Southern Command’s area of responsibility.
“We have a new friend today that the Republic of Colombia has found with the state of South Carolina. We are very excited about this new relationship. We are now partners for life,” Bedoya said.
The vice minister remarked that his country and South Carolina have much in common including “the values that we share, the respect for our men and women in uniform, and of course, the fight against terrorism and narco-trafficking.”
Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston, Jr. the adjutant general of South Carolina, said he is also looking forward to the partnership.
“Both of us – the Colombian military and the South Carolina National Guard – have a lot of hard lessons learned in counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, consequence management and response to local emergencies in support of local authorities,” Livingston said. “This truly is a sharing. We don’t have all the answers and the Colombians don’t have all the answers. But as we share we become stronger militaries.”
The program's goals reflect an evolving international affairs mission for the National Guard to interact with both the active and reserve forces of foreign nations, interagency partners, and international non-governmental organizations, emphasizing the National Guard’s unique state and federal characteristics. The SPP is a partnership of equal partners and as well as one of shared responsibilities in addressing transnational concerns.
Program partners engage in a broad range of security cooperation activities to include homeland defense/security, disaster response/mitigation, consequence/crisis management, interagency cooperation, border/port/aviation security, combat medical, fellowship-style internships, and bilateral familiarization events that lead to training and exercise opportunities. Activities are coordinated through the combatant commanders, U.S. ambassadors’ country teams, and other agencies as appropriate to ensure National Guard cooperation is tailored to meet U.S. and international partners’ objectives.