CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Leadership of the West Virginia National Guard (WVNG) held a video conference call with their State Partnership Program (SPP) counterparts in Perú to discuss COVID-19 military response efforts and best practices June 11.
The video conference was held in lieu of face-to-face meetings due to travel restrictions still active during the pandemic.
Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, adjutant general of the WVNG, and Command Sgt. Maj. Phillip Cantrell, senior enlisted adviser for the WVNG, and an interpreter and SPP-Peru program coordinator, Sgt. 1st Class Hector Guillen, discussed COVID-19 efforts with Brig. Gen. Marcos Rodriguez, the commander of the Peruvian Army’s National Support and Development Command, and other members of the Peruvian military.
The meeting lasted about an hour. Topics included securing and using personal protective equipment (PPE), decontamination missions and assisting public health officials with testing. They also discussed how to keep members of both military organizations safe and healthy.
Hoyer and Rodriguez spoke about the challenges of COVID-19, requiring long-term activation of personnel and a large-scale response compared to typical short-term, targeted local missions during natural disasters or emergencies.
Like the WVNG, Peruvian forces have been busy since early March providing humanitarian support, especially to vulnerable populations.
Before wrapping up the video conference call, both the WVNG and Perú reiterated the importance of the SPP program and their mutual desire to re-engage face-to-face after travel restrictions are lifted.
Hoyer invited Peruvian representatives to participate in the 2021 Boy Scout Jamboree mission in West Virginia and next summer’s large scale Vigilant Guard exercise at the WVNG Hobet training site.
“I was a young captain in 1996 when our Perú SPP relationship began,” said Hoyer. “I have watched our partnership grow and mature throughout my career, and it is a source of pride for us that our Peruvian partners continue to stand side-by-side with us in such meaningful ways.”
Through this partnership, the West Virginia Guard and Peruvian military have participated in more than 130 engagements focusing on regional challenges facing the Andean region, especially in the areas of counterinsurgency, anti-terrorism, emergency preparedness and disaster response and recovery.