CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Leadership and State Partnership Program (SPP) representatives from the West Virginia National Guard, along with representatives and program experts from the National Guard Bureau, U.S. Central Command, Army Central Command, and the State of Qatar, participated in a Leader Development and Education for Sustained Peace (LDESP) Seminar on Qatar Feb. 5-6, 2019, in Charleston, W.Va.

Presentation and round-table discussions were lead by top Qatar academics from Baker's Institute, Rice University; Middle East Studies Center, Georgia State University; Case Western Reserve University; Center for Civil-Military Relations and the Near East and South Asia Center for Security Studies.

The WVNG has been partnered with the State of Qatar since April 2018 through the Dept. of Defense's SPP. The two work to develop and engage in mutually beneficial military-to-military, military-to-civilian, and civilian-to-civilian engagements to increase military and diplomatic capabilities, training interactions, interoperability, and to deter and disrupt criminal and terrorist activities in the region.

"As one of our two SPP partner nations, Qatar is exceptionally important to the West Virginia National Guard and to the United States as an ally and as a partner in dealing with violent extremism, and in supporting NATO in Afghanistan and throughout the greater Middle East," said West Virginia Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. James Hoyer. "This workshop helps our team have a far deeper knowledge and appreciation of our Qatari partners, and how we can best engage with them and continue to serve our state and national relationship."

Established in 2001, the LDESP is a Department of Defense (DoD) organization located at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, that prepares senior military and civilian U.S. leaders for short and long-term engagement in Africa, the Pacific, the Middle East, Europe and other regions around the world. The program executes distance learning courses and graduate level education for military and civilian leaders to establish a regional, geopolitical, and cultural framework for understanding the challenges of conducting full spectrum operations in unique and rapidly changing environments.

"Qatar is excited to expand and solidify our relationship and partnership with the United States and the State of West Virginia," said Qatar Ministry of Interior representative Mohammed Al-Sowaidi. "Our SPP program relationship with the West Virginia National Guard is one that will strengthen both nations and the State of West Virginia as we move forward."

The WVNG and Qatar partnership continues to grow with numerous engagements already completed in 2019 with many more planned both in Qatar and West Virginia. The WVNG is working with Qatar to help build regional aeromedical evacuation capabilities; increase Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High-Yield Explosive (CBRNE) capabilities and training; provide Critical Infrastructure Protection assessment training in advance of the 2022 World Cup; as well as develop the integration of Special Operations Forces for specialized mission taskings.