North Carolina National Guard Welcomes New Zambian Partnership

North Carolina National Guard leaders join fellow U.S. Military and Zambian leaders at a State Partnership Program Signing Ceremony, Livingstone, Zambia, April 26, 2024. The leaders were invited to the ceremony as part of the NCNG’s expansion joining the Republic of Zambia and the Republic of Malawi in their State Partnership Program, a National Guard Bureau initiative joining individual state National Guards and host nations as part of U.S. security cooperation and international civil-military affairs.



By Maj. Ellis Parks North Carolina National Guard Livingstone, Zambia May 13, 2024
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What would make a member from the Governor’s Office of North Carolina, several members from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA&CS), and a host of members from the North Carolina National Guard (NCNG) pack their bags, board a plane or two, and travel more than 18 hours, over 7,000 miles to the Republic of Zambia? What exercise or operation is so important that all three components of the U.S. Army, National Guard Bureau, and the North Carolina Army and Air National Guard would be called up to take part in this country of 20 million people? If the agriculture group is going, it must have something to do with farming, right? But if the military is involved, it must have something to do with conflict. Or is North Carolina and the NCNG setting the framework to be one of the most impactful and instrumental state partners on the African continent? The Chief of Staff for the governor’s office Kristi Jones, and 19 members from the NCNG joined NCDA&CS Chief of Staff Zane Hedgecock, Peter A. Thornton, the department’s director of marketing, and Associate Dean for North Carolina State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Dr. Richard Bonanno on April 22. The team boarded their Delta flight en route to take part in a ceremony that held the potential to be one of the most significant international endeavors that North Carolina has been part of in years, and possibly ever. After the long flight, the team touched down in Johannesburg and then made their way to the Republic of Zambia. There the team joined the Chargé D’affair for the United States Embassy, Republic of Zambia, Linnisa Wahid, the Secretary for the N.C. Department of Public Safety Eddie Buffaloe, Deputy Commander, U.S. Army Africa Command Army Lt. Gen. John Brennan, and Army Maj. Gen. Todd Hunt, the Adjutant General of North Carolina. After a day of getting acclimated to the change in time, season, and weather, this determined ensemble of leaders met with various members of the Republic of Zambia’s Army, Air Force, Ministry of Defense, and Ministry of Agriculture. The aim was to discuss various paths forward and ways in which both the Nation and the state could best help each other, and with these conversations, the State Partnership Program between the Republic of Zambia and North Carolina began. “Although, we are here to mark the official start of the state partnership between us (NCNG and Zambia),” said Hunt. “We have been working together for years already.” Daily, the two groups were allotted time to discuss the needs of the Zambian people and ways that the state government and the NCNG could assist. Simultaneously, the Zambian leaders shared with the N.C. team their best practices and lessons they have learned over the years. With more than 75% of the Zambian population working in agriculture and North Carolina being one of the biggest agriculture states, both vocationally and through the university systems, this amazing country and North Carolina’s partnership seemed almost destined. North Carolina continues to lead the U.S. in tobacco and potato production, which are Zambia’s main exports, showing a simple example of how closely knit the partners are. “We are more than excited to have Zambia as our state partners,” said Buffaloe. “This opportunity opens doors for both groups to share our cultures, our knowledge of the world, our military capabilities, and to improve upon our democratic ways of life.” The partnership could not have come at a better time, as Zambia is experiencing the worst drought in over 40 years. The country has massive bodies of water throughout it, and it shares Victoria Falls, the largest set of waterfalls in the world, with Zimbabwe. Currently, the Zambian people lack the resources to access and use the water from these waterways to properly irrigate their farmland. “The State Partnership Program between my country and North Carolina is one that I hope helps with ensuring food security for our people,” said Permanent Secretary for Zambia’s Ministry of Defence, Norman Chipakupaku. “We must learn to use our natural resources to help with our food insecurities. We feel if we work with North Carolina and Malawi, we can learn to use our water and land to be the food basket for all of South Africa.” The culminating event happened when Jones, Hunt joined the Republic of Zambia’s MP Minister of Defence the Honorable Ambrose Lwizhi Lufuma, SC MP Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security the Honorable Jack Mwiimbu, approximately 250 guests, and about 30 members of the press came together for the State Partnership Program Letter of Intent Signing Ceremony on April 26, 2024. The ceremony took less than two hours but the intent behind it will last, what many hope, is a lifetime. “We need the building of the relationships between North Carolina, Zambia, and Malawi to be a historical one,” said Chipakupaku.
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