The District of Columbia National Guard celebrated its 217th birthday at its annual gala May 9 at the DC National Guard Armory here. The event recognized 20 years of cooperation with the Jamaican Defense Force and the DC National Guard’s new partnership with the armed forces of Burkina Faso, under the National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program (SPP).
Marking the occasion included United States Ambassador to Burkina Faso Andrew Young, Jamaican Ambassador to the United States H.E. Audrey Marks and General Stephen W. Wilson, U.S. Air Force Vice Chief of Staff.
The gala, hosted by Maj. Gen. William J. Walker, commanding general, DC National Guard was an opportunity to reflect on past and future opportunities to further U.S. Jamaican and Burkina Faso military-to-military engagements in support of defense security goals, leveraging whole-of-society relationships and capabilities to facilitate broader inter-agency and corollary engagements spanning military, government, economic and social spheres.
The gala came on the heals of a strategic planning summit focused on counter-terrorism between the DC National Guard, US Africa Command, US State Department, and the Burkina Faso Armed Forces. The week-long summit, April 29 to June 3, highlighted four areas for enhanced coordination and cooperation: intelligence support, crisis response, law enforcement and equipment and custody procedures. The engagement set the foundation for the partnership and how the DC National Guard, and the United States in general, can support their partners, especially in the fight against extremism growing in the Sahel region of Africa.
“Not only are our DC National Guardsmen professional soldiers and airmen, but their civilian occupations include local and county police and federal law enforcement agencies. Will can use our breath and depth of expertise to assist in strengthening security capabilities and the security apparatus,” said Walker. “Conversely, this partnership provides a valuable opportunity for the DC National Guard to enhance our own readiness, inter-operability and regional expertise.”
The SPP has been successfully building relationships for 25 years and includes 75 partners with 81 nations around the globe. With the addition of Burkina Faso, the SPP now supports 11 countries in Africa furthering the counter-terrorism and partnership building lines of effort of United States Africa Command.
Since 1802 the DC National Guard has been protecting the capital and defending the nation. Today’s DC National Guard remains strong with more than 2,700 soldiers and airmen providing air sovereignty over the National Capital Region, transporting senior government leaders, supporting domestic operations and providing mission-ready soldiers and airmen for active duty.
For more information on the DC National Guard visit https://dc.ng.mil.