FORT IRWIN, Calif. -- U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Moldova, the Honorable Dereck Hogan, met with over 100 Moldovan Army Reconnaissance soldiers at the (RUBA) Rotational Unit Bivouac Area, during National Training Center rotation 19-09, at Fort Irwin, California, July 16.For over three weeks in the sweltering Mojave desert heat, the Moldovan scout unit trained side-by-side with their longtime National Guard State Partner, the North Carolina National Guard's 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team, as well as with the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade.Hogan was accompanied by the Moldovan Minister of Defense, Pavel Voicu, and Moldovan Army Col. Mariana Grama, head of the Moldovan Military Relations Department of the Strategic Planning Directorate."This is an exciting time for me because this is a visit of many firsts," said Hogan. "This is the first time I have seen the Moldovan army out of their own country, this is the first time I have been able to observe Moldovan and American military specifically the North Carolina National Guard, and this is the first time the Minister of Defense has come to the United States."Hogan continued, "For me to be able to come with him is a powerful symbol of the relationship that the United States and Moldova have and the potential that the North Carolina National Guard gives to Moldova."Hogan and Voicu took the time to personally speak to Soldiers and thank and congratulate the entire company for how well they integrated with Soldiers of the 30th Armored Brigade.Moldova has been a State Partner with the N.C. National Guard since 1996. The Department of Defense's National Guard State Partnership Program (SPP) was formed in 1993 to create military and civil sector bonds between former Soviet Union countries while conducting military-to-military and civilian-to-military activities to maintain international defensive security and to increase peace and stability across Europe.Today the National Guard SPP includes 75 partnerships in 85 nations around the globe."We are celebrating over 20 years of the state partnership between Moldova and the North Carolina National Guard," said Hogan. "To be able to have over 20 years getting to that point where almost every Moldovan knows about North Carolina because of the 20 plus years of investment that North Carolina has made into Moldova, and to be here with the Minister to visit the largest deployment of Moldovan troops outside of Moldova is giving the Minister something to be so proud of; his people and this partnership."The 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade (1SFAB) was in attendance during the Ambassador's visit.The SFAB's mission is to deploy in support of a Combatant Commander, integrate with foreign partner forces, assist and advise local security operations to build partner security capacity and capability."Our primary mission is to "enable" by assisting them [Moldovans] to understand U.S. doctrine, to help show them our systems while integrating with a U.S. force and advise them on their own systems," said U.S. Army Capt. Justin Shaw, assigned to 1SFAB. "The 30th ABCT is not someone we partnered with before, so we partner both with them and the Moldovan forces. For us as advisors, we have to plug into both units. Our main focus is towards the Moldovans, but in order to best integrate them into the 30th ABCT, we also have to understand how 30th ABCT's functions."Because of SPP's success built upon 25 years of creating mutually beneficial military to military partnerships, the 1SFAB had relatively few integration challenges."This experience was amazing because we got to strengthen our relationships with North Carolina and build new relations with our U.S. counterparts, exchanging experiences and enhancing our readiness," said Moldovan Army Maj. Alexandr Procopciuc, the Moldovan Army Reconnaissance company commander. "The SFAB team made our integration with the 30th ABCT smooth and ensured that my voice was heard in the operations center."Over 4,200 Soldiers from four National Guard states comprised of North Carolina, West Virginia, Ohio and South Carolina National Guardsmen have been conducting a decisive action rotation focused on combined arms maneuver and collective gunnery at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, California, 27 June -- 20 July 2019. NTC provides the best, toughest and most current combat training available in the U.S. Army preparing the 30th ABCT for deployment overseas later this fall.