South Carolina National Guard Hosts Colombia Defense Chief

By Stephen Hudson, South Carolina National GuardMarch 7, 2024

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Van McCarty, the adjutant general for South Carolina, U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Robin B. Stilwell, director of the Joint Staff of the South Carolina National Guard, and other National Guard leaders meet with Colombian military leaders in Columbia, South Carolina, Feb. 29, 2024. The event was part of a three-day State Partnership Program exchange. (U.S. Army National Guard photo Sgt. 1st Class Roby Di Giovine)
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Van McCarty, the adjutant general for South Carolina, U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Robin B. Stilwell, director of the Joint Staff of the South Carolina National Guard, and other National Guard leaders meet with Colombian military leaders in Columbia, South Carolina, Feb. 29, 2024. The event was part of a three-day State Partnership Program exchange. (U.S. Army National Guard photo Sgt. 1st Class Roby Di Giovine) (Photo Credit: Sgt. 1st Class Roberto Di Giovine) VIEW ORIGINAL

COLUMBIA, S.C. - The South Carolina National Guard hosted Colombian military leaders from Feb. 28 to March 1 during two State Partnership Program events.

The three-day visit by Gen. Helder Giraldo, Colombia’s chief of defense, and Colombian military officers was part of a State Partnership Program key leader engagement with the South Carolina National Guard.

Senior Guard leaders met with Giraldo to discuss defense cooperation and provide briefings and updates on the command’s efforts to strengthen the bilateral defense partnership.

Giraldo and staff visited the South Carolina Emergency Management Division for a disaster response briefing, watched a demonstration by the 43rd Civil Support Team and met with command staff, touring the 169th Fighter Wing and Army National Guard maintenance facilities.

The Colombian delegation also observed a group of Colombian soldiers participating in the South Carolina Army National Guard’s Best Warrior Competition at the McCrady Training Site.

“General Giraldo observed South Carolina National Guard capabilities and was impressed with the depth and breadth of those capabilities,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Dan Linkroum, SPP state director. “He gained a better understanding of what the National Guard does to supplement the active-duty component and what our role is in support to domestic authorities.”

During their visit, the senior enlisted leader cohort participated in an NCO development seminar.

“Both sides walked away with a better understanding of each other’s enlisted development programs,” Linkroum said.

The South Carolina Guard will send three senior noncommissioned officers to Colombia to attend an enlisted leadership symposium.

Since the South Carolina National Guard’s partnership with the Republic of Colombia was launched in 2012, South Carolina has focused on establishing long-term relationships to promote mutual interests and capabilities. The South Carolina National Guard focuses on cyber, fixed-wing and rotary-wing maintenance, engineering and ground-vehicle maintenance and logistics.

The South Carolina National Guard has completed six SPP engagements with Colombia this year, with another 40 scheduled.

In February, the South Carolina Army National Guard loaned Colombia several 1,000-gallon helicopter water dispersal systems to combat wildfires outside Bogota.

The Department of Defense State Partnership Program is a cooperative military-to-military exchange administered by the National Guard Bureau. It facilitates cooperation between U.S. National Guard units and foreign allies. The program began in 1993 and has grown to include 100 nations.

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