NEW YORK -- The New York National Guard embarked on a new State Partnership Program with the country of Brazil with the Thursday signing of a Partnership Declaration between Maj. Gen. Ray Shields, the adjutant general of New York, and Brazilian Navy Rear Adm. Guilherme da Silva Costa, representing the Brazilian National Defense Force, aboard the Intrepid Air & Space Museum.

The partnership is part of the National Guard's State Partnership Program which pairs state National Guards with the militaries of countries around the world in bilateral training and exchange partnerships.

"The New York National Guard is looking forward to a constructive relationship with Brazil which allows us to learn from each other," said Shields. "We are looking forward to establishing a strong bilateral relationship which allows us to share best practices and work and train together."

The goal of the State Partnership Program allows National Guard Soldiers and Airmen to learn from military members of other nations, while also sharing American military expertise with friends and allies.

The State Partnership Program helps advance U.S. strategic efforts while engaging in partnerships with friendly militaries worldwide to promote shared security goals.

"We can help achieve security cooperation through long term personal relationships, and that's what the National Guard's State Partnership Program offers," Shields said.

A foundation of the success of the State Partnership Program, now active in 83 nations around the globe, is the benefit of Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen engaging beyond the military to military skill engagement, said Air Force Gen. Joseph Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau.

"One of the reasons these engagements are so successful is when we send a member of the New York National Guard to Brazil, they are not only able to help train on their specific military skillset but also share insight to the conduct of their civilian professions as well," Lengyel said. "When the other components send infantry or pilots, that's what you get. However, when we send the same you also get a doctor, or a police officer, or a mayor, or a teacher."

"I really have to tip my hat to the National Guard,"
said Adm. Craig Faller, commander of U.S. Southern Command, during the ceremony. "The State Partnership Program is one of the most valuable resources to me in our engagements."

New York and Brazil have unique ties to one another, ranging from the Brazilian-American communities in Mount Vernon and Astoria, the "Little Brazil" section of Manhattan, the annual New York City Brazil Day each September and some 300 commercial businesses with ties to New York and Brazil.

The military ties between New York and Brazil also work toward cooperative goals, Faller said. "As the hemisphere's two largest democracies, our relationship has been built on an enduring promise to one another: to be steadfast, committed, and co-equal partners that work together to achieve a cooperative, prosperous, and secure hemisphere," Faller said. "It's a relationship grounded in shared values, like respect for human rights and the importance of transparency and accountability."

New York has also maintained a State Partnership Program relationship with the South African National Defense Force since 2003.

This partnership has resulted in a number of exchanges, most recently in September 2018 when two New York Air National Guard aircraft and 38 New York Soldiers and Airmen were part of the U.S. contingent at South Africa's African Aerospace and Defense Exhibition 18 at Waterkloof Air Force Base near Pretoria, South Africa.

Similar exchanges and training events will benefit New York and Brazilian service members, Faller said.

"The partnership is an opportunity to learn from one another, to exchange military skills and experiences, share defense knowledge, build the readiness of our forces, and improve our operational effectiveness, together," he said.

The cooperation between Brazil and the United States has historic precedence, Guilherme said.

"There has been a long-standing partnership between the armed forces from both our countries," he said, "exchanging experiences and knowledge, training together, fighting together."

"With the State Partnership Program, by the exchange of experiences, both sides will be able to enlarge capacities, so as to better serve our countries, better serve our people," Guilherme said.

Because New York has one of the larger National Guard structures in the country, the New York National Guard has the ability to conduct two-state partnership programs.

"The State Partnership Program is an opportunity to accelerate the transformation of our security relationship with Brazil," Faller said. "And for Brazil, it is an opportunity to unleash the valuable cooperation resources of the United States via the great state of New York."

As the partnership progresses, a New York National Guard bilateral relations office will be assigned to the United States Embassy in Brasilia to plan and coordinate training and exchange programs between the two nations.

"The State Partnership Program is about people; Soldiers and Airmen meeting with counterparts and peers, sharing lessons, best practices and building those critical long term relationships," Shields said.

"I'm sure that all these elements, together, provide a path for the success of this partnership," Guilherme said, "Always ready, always there!" Faller said. "The State Partnership Program is one of the most valuable resources to me in our engagements."

Similar exchanges and training events will benefit New York and Brazilian service members, Faller said.

"The partnership is an opportunity to learn from one another, to exchange military skills and experiences, share defense knowledge, build the readiness of our forces, and improve our operational effectiveness, together," he said.

The cooperation between Brazil and the United States has historic precedence, Guilherme said.

"There has been a long-standing partnership between the armed forces from both our countries," he said, "exchanging experiences and knowledge, training together, fighting together."

"With the State Partnership Program, by the exchange of experiences, both sides will be able to enlarge capacities, so as to better serve our countries, better serve our people," Guilherme said.

"The State Partnership Program is about people; Soldiers and Airmen meeting with counterparts and peers, sharing lessons, best practices and building those critical long term relationships," Shields said.

"I'm sure that all these elements, together, provide a path for the success of this partnership," Guilherme said, "Always ready, always there!"