CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The West Virginia National Guard (WVNG) hosted Maj. Gen. Mario E. Risco Carmen, defense and military attache to the Embassy of Peru in Washington, D.C., for a State Partnership Program (SPP) exchange at Joint Force Headquarters, Charleston, West Virginia.

Risco toured WVNG facilities and talked with senior leaders about Emergency Operations Center functions and protocols, aviation medicine and aeromedical evacuations, the Non-Commissioned Officer Development Program (NCOPD), and the WVNG's Army Interagency Training and Education Center (AITEC). They also discussed WVNG disaster and emergency response capabilities and working with civilian agencies and relief organizations -- and how Perú can duplicate these features in their operations.

The leaders talked about WVNG Soldiers and Airmen traveling to Perú to mentor under the NCOPD program, and Peruvian soldiers attending AITEC training in West Virginia for vertical/horizontal construction courses, search and rescue extractor 1 courses, and swift water qualification courses.

"Our goal is to build WV and Peruvian military readiness through partnership engagements," said Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, adjutant general of the WVNG. "The more engagements we have, the stronger our long-term relationship becomes and the broader scope of operations we can support."

Risco shared the story of Peruvian Army Col. Francisco Bolognesi, who was killed in the Battle of Arica in June 1880. According to Risco, when faced with a call to surrender, Bolognesi famously said: "I have sacred duties to fulfill and I will fulfill them until the last cartridge is burned." Risco said this is very significant to the heritage of the military forces of the Republic of Perú and motivates Peruvian soldiers.

"It was a pleasure to travel to West Virginia and help further build our now 20-year-plus SPP partnership," Risco said. "We are very excited about future training opportunities between WV and Perú and very much look forward to learning from our WV friends."

"Our SPP relationship with Perú continues to provide opportunities for growth and increased interoperability," stated Brig. Gen. Christopher "Mookie" Walker, assistant adjutant general, air. "Working closely with our counterparts within the Peruvian Army and the Peruvian Embassy allows us to support increased operational integration and training between our two nations."

West Virginia and Perú have been SPP partners since 1996, participating in more than 130 engagements focusing on regional challenges facing the Andean region, especially in counterinsurgency, anti-terrorism, emergency preparedness, and disaster response.