NEW YORK (July 13, 2012) -- South African National Defence Force officials learned how the New York National Guard does logistics during a visit to the historic Lexington Avenue Armory here, July 3.

The visit was part of the New York National Guard State Partnership Program, providing the two military forces with opportunities to exchange best practices.

Lt. Gen. J.T. Nkonyane, the South African National Defence Force's chief of logistics, and members of his team received an informational overview of how military logistics works for the New York National Guard at the federal and state level.

"It is our opportunity to share some of our best practices that consistently produce results and shape sustainment operations," said Lt. Col. Kaarlo Hietala, deputy director of logistics, "as well as to hear an outside opinion on things that we could expand or improve on for the future."

Representing South Africa were Nkonyane, Sithuthakile Mkhwanazi, the South African Defence Force director of asset management, and Brig. Gen. Getrude Mngadi, the South African National Defence Force director of facilities.

The South Africans had opportunities to discuss a range of logistics issues with their counterparts, including Col. Ray Shields, the New York National Guard Director of the Joint Staff; Deputy Director of Logistics, Hietala; and Lt. Col. Andrew Stewart, construction facility manager.

"What we want to do is benchmark ourselves on logistics, process and key procedures," Mkhwanazi said.

Hietala explained how the New York National Guard supplies troops and maintains inventory and readiness of the more than 2,500 vehicles in the New York Army National Guard. He outlined how the network of maintenance facilities located across New York works to assist local units.

Stewart discussed outlined how the Guard manages complex logistical operations through its data processing systems like the Standard Army Maintenance System-Enhanced, or STAMIS, and the Standard Army Retail Supply System, or SARSS, and the importance of understanding the technical know-how in order to being able to relate the statuses to grounds-keeping, accounting and reporting, and/or marketing.

He even gave the South African logisticians crash course in how our New York State Thruway and bridge and tunnel tolls are collected, maintained and billed: a total of $66,000 in fiscal year 2011.

"The New York National Guard and the South African Defence Force logistics operations both rely on the critical understanding of a staging base to initiate and execute movement," Stewart said. "One commonality identified here recognizes the fundamental that our facilities are the foundation and platform for troop readiness," he added.

"Today's informational overview on logistics in the New York National Guard describes a very complex logistics system where there is a lot to learn," Nkonyane said. "However, it is such a valuable experience because we are able to see different ways of reaching mission accomplishment. This has certainly been a trip worth-while, the professionalism by the New York National Guard produces great impact."

The visit was part of a week-long tour hosted by the New York National Guard State Partnership Program. The group also visited Stewart Air National Guard Base and the New York Air National Guard's 105th Airlift Wing in Newburg, N.Y., and Fort Wadsworth, Fort Hamilton, Pennsylvania Station and the World Trade Center 9/11 Memorial in New York City.

"New York State's partnership with the Republic of South Africa is a critical component of the United States' overall regional engagement strategy," Shields said. "By working with our counterparts in the South African National Defence Force, the service members of the New York National Guard are helping to foster better relations on the continent of Africa," he added.