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North Dakota National Guard, Ghana Armed Forces Continue Support Through State Partnership Program
A team of four public affairs personnel from the North Dakota National Guard (NDNG), who provided media support during Africa Endeavor (AE) 2010 from August 9-20, 2010, had the opportunity to foster their state partnership with the Ghana Armed
ACCRA, Ghana - Ghanaian Army Corporal Agbley Emc (left), Ghana native Sampson Kweku Boateng (center), and Ghana Army Corporal Addo Kennedy (right) make preparations for an upcoming Local Area Network/Wide Area Network(LAN/WAN) class during Africa Endeavor (AE) 2010 at the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College in Accra August 19, 2010.  The LAN/WAN test group focuses on network fundamentals, basic computer networking and the rules that govern networking.  AE 2010 is a U.S. Africa Command-sponsored initiative intended to encourage interoperability and information exchange among African nations via communication networks and subsequent collaborative links with the United States, African Union and other African partners with common stability, security and sustainment goals. (U.S. Africa Command photo by North Dakota Army National Guard Specialist Cassandra Simonton)
1 photo: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 1 of 1: ACCRA, Ghana - Ghanaian Army Corporal Agbley Emc (left), Ghana native Sampson Kweku Boateng (center), and Ghana Army Corporal Addo Kennedy (right) make preparations for an upcoming Local Area Network/Wide Area Network(LAN/WAN) class during Africa Endeavor (AE) 2010 at the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College in Accra August 19, 2010. The LAN/WAN test group focuses on network fundamentals, basic computer networking and the rules that govern networking. AE 2010 is a U.S. Africa Command-sponsored initiative intended to encourage interoperability and information exchange among African nations via communication networks and subsequent collaborative links with the United States, African Union and other African partners with common stability, security and sustainment goals. (U.S. Africa Command photo by North Dakota Army National Guard Specialist Cassandra Simonton) Download full-resolution version
A team of four public affairs personnel from the North Dakota National Guard (NDNG), who provided media support during Africa Endeavor (AE) 2010 from August 9-20, 2010, had the opportunity to foster their state partnership with the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF).

During their stay, Master Sergeant Ken Baer, Staff Sergeant Billie Jo Lourius, and Specialists Cassandra Simonton and Jess Raasch were given the opportunity to partake in a cultural tour and traditional dinner that allowed them a glimpse into the Ghanaian way of life.

They were privileged to interact with soldiers from more than 35 African and European countries, to include Ghana. The team developed friendships while learning many different customs.

“It is one thing to hear about a country, but to actually go and experience it first-hand and meet the people is an opportunity to learn and appreciate the Ghanaian culture,” said Master Sergeant Ken Baer.

The NDNG and GAF have been working together as part of the National Guard State Partnership Program (SPP) since 2004.

While in Accra, the team met with Ghanaian Lieutenant General Peter Blay, the Chief of Defense Staff of the Ghana Armed Forces. As a group, they discussed the SPP and how it has positively affected each state.

“What we want to do from both sides is great,” said Blay. “Our vision is clear.”

The primary goal of the SPP is to link U.S. states with partner countries’ defense ministry and other government agencies for the purpose of improving bilateral relations and supporting the security cooperation objectives of the Department of Defense and the Department of State.

“The partnership North Dakota and Ghana have with one another has proven successful. Through the exchange of ideas and training, we have both been able to grow to understand more about each other and ourselves,” said Major General David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota National Guard adjutant general.

The SPP exemplifies military subordination and support to civilian authority and engages U.S. civilians in private and governmental agencies with their respective counterparts in the partner country with the goal of cooperation and program involvement.

Also, the SPP reinforces the concept of democratic institutions, and protects and represents U.S. humanitarian values while learning, understanding and respecting the values of other nations.

“There is a bigger strategy than what we can see in the United States,” said Major Brock Larson, the NDNG SPP coordinator. “We are operating in a global economy. This is a partnership that can benefit both ways.”

Since its start, the NDNG and GAF have conducted more than 50 events for the SPP that have taken place in both North Dakota and Ghana.

Blay traveled to North Dakota for the second time in the spring of 2010. Blay’s wife and daughter, along with members of his support staff, joined him on his trip so that they too, could learn from North Dakota.

A few of the many areas covered in the Ghana-North Dakota partnership includes disaster management, military engineering, and public affairs.

Engineers and technicians are exchanged between the two states on a yearly basis so that knowledge and training techniques could be shared.

"We had engineers travel to North Dakota to receive training, and as soon as they returned home, they put their new skills to use,” said Blay.

The NDNG has provided training in other areas, such as how to form a Family Readiness Team and how to respond to disasters in a timely, efficient manner.

“North Dakota and Ghana have a lot of similarities. The economies are similar between the two states; we both have agricultural backgrounds, and we both deal with natural disasters on a yearly basis,” said Larson.

The friendship between the NDNG and GAF has continued to flourish, resulting in many plans being to continue the active participation between both states.

“As long as both sides show commitment and interest and continue to share, the exercise will go a long way. It is a good initiative and we do not want to drop it,” said Blay. “There is never an end to improvements that can be made or what the world can learn.”
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