By Capt. Holli Nelson | West Virginia National GuardFebruary 6, 2018
LIMA, Peru - West Virginia National Guard senior leaders and members of the State Partnership Program met with Peruvian military leadership in Lima, Peru recently to develop a path forward for future engagements in the coming months and years.
WVNG Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. James A. Hoyer, and senior enlisted leader, Command Sgt. Maj. James L. Allen, along with the SPP team and U.S. Embassy in Peru personnel, met individually and collectively with various high ranking officials within the Peruvian military forces to establish priorities through key leader engagement.
Altogether, meetings occurred between the WVNG and the U.S. Ambassador to Peru, Mr. Krishna Urs, Peruvian army and air force commanding generals, operations officers and other key leaders of the service branches and joint force, as well as the leaders of the National Civil Defense Institute (INDECI) and National Emergency Operations Center.
"Having the opportunity to meet face to face with the new leadership in the Peruvian military and civilian authorities to establish goals and objectives to move our strong partnership forward was an important step in ensuring we help our partner nation grow and prosper militarily," said Maj. Gen. James A. Hoyer, the WVNG Adjutant General. "Our Soldiers and Airmen in West Virginia possess unique skill sets that align perfectly with what our Peruvian partners need to further develop their military programs and response efforts."
He continued, "They ultimately want what we want in West Virginia, to be a force capable of responding to their people when they need them most and I know we can help them achieve that goal."
Due to the Peruvian military's unique command structure and recent rotation of leadership, the meetings were necessary to ensure a strong partnership can continue between the two entities and to look for new opportunities for growth through the State Partnership Program.
"Meeting with the new Peruvian leadership from the different branches of service, as well as the civilian sector, will allow us to create a better overall partnership between West Virginia and Peru," said Capt. Joshua Goforth, SPP - Peru director for the WVNG.
Peruvian military leaders have short timeframes for their command and these meetings were a vital part in ensuring the priorities of the new leaders have not drastically changed from previous interactions, he explained.
Between both the Peruvian army and air force, a common theme of ensuring the military can provide help to citizens in a natural disaster or humanitarian crisis was at the top of the list for discussion points during the visit. With Peru's mountainous terrain and sometimes-unpredictable rain patterns, flooding is a major issue for many areas in the country, as well as the potential for catastrophic earthquakes and other natural disasters.
Through previous meetings between the two military forces, the West Virginia National Guard has helped to establish and build upon current efforts within the Peruvian military to assist their citizens in a time of need. Such efforts have included subject matter expert training, showcasing equipment capabilities such as the C-130H, and sharing lessons learned from disaster response and new program creations.
The WVNG leaders and the SPP director and coordinator, in conjunction with the U.S. Embassy staff in Peru, will establish the guidelines and potential opportunities for engagement that were outlined during the meetings with key leaders.
Going forward, the WVNG will focus on providing timeframes, projects or other training events for Peru and West Virginia to meet and expand humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities. Additionally, future endeavors may include non-commissioned officer development, aeromedical evacuation training, engineering support, and construction planning and development.
West Virginia and Peru are jointly connected through the National Guard Bureau's State Partnership Program (SPP) and the two have been advising, training and assisting each other since 1996. Each year, the two forces conduct roughly 15 or more engagements to build partner capabilities through the mutually beneficial endeavors.
The SPP was designed in 1992 to improve and build relations around the globe through 73 partnerships with different countries. In just over 20 years, Peru and West Virginia have partnered together for more than 120 interactions between the forces providing insight into regional challenges facing the Andean Ridge, especially in the areas of counter-insurgency, anti-terrorism, emergency preparedness, risk mitigation, disaster response and recovery.