JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- More than 75 participants gathered at the Fort Sam Houston, Mission Training Complex, for an adjutant general conference including adjutants and assistant adjutants generals and command sergeants major representing 17 states; State Partnership Program directors; representatives from U.S. Southern Command, Air Force Command and Navy Command; 10 Army section chiefs stationed at partner nation countries; and U.S. Army South staff.
Army South hosted the conference Jan. 20-21 in order to synchronize its efforts with the National Guard partner states and National Guard Bureau in support of the U.S. Southern Command's State Partnership Program.
"We have great relationships with a lot of countries because of the State Partnership Program," said Maj. Gen. K.K. Chinn, Army South commanding general during his opening remarks. "This conference is about collaboration, strengthening our relationship, and integrating and synchronizing our resources to support the SPP's mission."
The U.S. Army National Guard's State Partnership Program has been successfully building relationships with partner nation forces for more than 20 years through military-to-military engagements to support defense and security cooperation around the world.
Within the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility, 17 U.S. states have active partnerships with defense and security forces from 26 nations in the Caribbean, Central America and South America.
"Maj. Gen. Chinn has done an excellent job of reaching out and trying to build a network that helps us encompass all of the state partnerships and makes us stronger together," said Brig. Gen. Harrison Gilliam, Assistant Adjutant General for the state of West Virginia which partners with Peru.
The state partnership engagements focus on security cooperation, humanitarian assistance/disaster relief, professional development, medical and engineering.
Maj. Gen. William Reddel, Adjutant General for the state of New Hampshire, believes the conference will allow him and the New Hampshire National Guard better serve his partner nation of El Salvador, which he described as "the shining star for democracy in Central America."
"The biggest thing for me is helping out our partner nation," said Reddel. "This conference helps us coordinate our efforts with the limited amount of funds available to make it go further. This kind of coordination will make it happen."
Attendees were seated according to the Southern Command regional area of operation in order to facilitate dialogues that allowed the participants to focus on regional situation during their discussions.
During the conference, participants from every region shared upcoming events and engagements with their respective partner nations and had deep discussions on how they can collaborate their efforts to plan and execute to accomplish the mission.
Gilliam admitted he learned a few things from his state counterparts about the different engagements he would like to incorporate within his state's partner nation engagements.
"The most important thing I learned from the conference is how other states are inviting their partner nations to participate in different competitions like the 'Best Warrior Competition' and I think that is a good idea we can take back and maybe incorporate that type of activity with our Peruvian partners," said Gilliam.
The Honorable Patrick Murphy, Acting Secretary of the Army, spoke to the adjutant general conference attendees during his visit to Fort Sam Houston. Murphy discussed the State Partnership Program with Army South and the adjutant generals and received a command brief on U.S. Army South's mission and operation.