Guam National Guard launches State Partnership with Palau

By Mark Scott, Guam National GuardMay 2, 2024

From left, Senior Enlisted Advisor Tony Whitehead, senior enlisted advisor to the chief of U.S. National Guard Bureau; U.S. Ambassador Joel Ehrendreich; Palau President Surangel Whipps; Guam Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero; and Col. Michael Cruz, adjutant general of the Guam National Guard, formalize a State Partnership Program partnership between Guam and Palau in Koror, Palau, April 29, 2024. The partnership builds on thousands of years of common ancestry between the Second Island Chain islands and seeks to mutually benefit both partners in defense and security cooperation.
From left, Senior Enlisted Advisor Tony Whitehead, senior enlisted advisor to the chief of U.S. National Guard Bureau; U.S. Ambassador Joel Ehrendreich; Palau President Surangel Whipps; Guam Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero; and Col. Michael Cruz, adjutant general of the Guam National Guard, formalize a State Partnership Program partnership between Guam and Palau in Koror, Palau, April 29, 2024. The partnership builds on thousands of years of common ancestry between the Second Island Chain islands and seeks to mutually benefit both partners in defense and security cooperation. (Photo Credit: Mark Scott) VIEW ORIGINAL

KOROR, Palau – In a historic ceremony at the Ngarachamayong Cultural Center in downtown Koror, Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr., Guam Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero and Col. Michael Cruz, adjutant general of the Guam National Guard, signed a declaration formalizing the nation’s newest state partnership between the U.S. Territory of Guam and the Republic of Palau.

Senior Enlisted Advisor Tony Whitehead, senior enlisted advisor to the chief of National Guard Bureau; U.S. Ambassador Joel Ehrendreich; Palau Vice President J. Uduch S. Senior, and members of the Palau National Congress and Council of Chiefs witnessed the ceremony.

Managed by the National Guard Bureau and executed with combatant commanders, the State Partnership Program develops enduring relationships, improves interoperability, and enhances the readiness of the United States and partner nations to meet emerging challenges together.

The program has been building relations for over 30 years and includes more than 100 nations. This year, NGB selected the Guam Guard to partner with Palau.

“When we talk about commonalities between Guam and Palau, we voyaged as warriors and seafarers thousands of years ago,” said Leon Guerrero. “Our ancestors braved the seas and storms with no computers or science at all, except the feel of the current and wind, the temperature of the water, and knowledge of the stars. We are innovative and resilient people who have weathered world wars, colonization and struggles for political identity. This partnership is just one way we will continue fighting for and defending our freedom.”

Guam and Palau’s island of Peleliu were sites of major battles during World War II.

Although Palau has no military, the State Partnership Program fosters a whole-of-government approach. Opportunities include exchanges in law enforcement and border security, cyber protection and resilience, medical and civil engineering community engagements, humanitarian assistance and disaster response.

Staff Sgt. Christina Adelbai, UH-72 Lakota helicopter mechanic for the Guam Guard’s aviation detachment, greeted the audience in native Palauan before reading the Declaration of Partnership in English.

“I just want to take a moment to say how proud I am of this partnership,” Adelbai said. “To be a Soldier in the Guam National Guard, standing here as a daughter of Palau, there’s a lot of pride.”

After the ceremony, Whipps shared the importance of the newly signed partnership.

“We are here today to celebrate and, really, I think, to begin a new chapter in this relationship that creates a lot of opportunities for our people to continue to help each other in that Pacific Way,” Whipps said. “Caring for each other and helping each other build each other up. Most importantly, being prepared and keeping our Indo-Pacific free and open and ensuring that our values, our democratic values, are made strong.”

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