Pennsylvania Partnerships Highlighted for Defense Attachés | article


Defense Attachés Brig. Gen. Gen. Michael Shapland of New Zealand, Capt. Malick Ndiaye of Senegal and Rear Admiral Axel Ristau of Germany shoot at targets on a range simulator at Fort Indiantown Gap's Training Support Center Nov. 16, 2022, during the Defense Intelligence Agency's fall 2022 campaign Operations Orientation Program tour of Pennsylvania National Guard facilities.  (Pennsylvania National Guard photo by Wayne V. Hall)


Defense Attachés Brig. Gen. Gen. Michael Shapland of New Zealand, Capt. Malick Ndiaye of Senegal and Rear Admiral Axel Ristau of Germany shoot at targets on a range simulator at Fort Indiantown Gap’s Training Support Center Nov. 16, 2022, during the Defense Intelligence Agency’s fall 2022 campaign Operations Orientation Program tour of Pennsylvania National Guard facilities. (Pennsylvania National Guard photo by Wayne V. Hall)
(Image credit: Wayne Hall)

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FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. – About 20 foreign military officers who serve as defense attachés for their countries toured Fort Indiantown Gap on Nov. 16.

The group received an overview of the Pennsylvania National Guard, emphasizing its partnership with Lithuania as part of the State Partnership Program and the Guard’s role in serving the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the nation.

The visit was part of the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Operations Orientation Program, which identified opportunities to foster partnerships and collaboration. In addition to visiting Fort Indiantown Gap, the group toured Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland; the Boeing factory in Philadelphia; joint base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey; and the US Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay in Philadelphia.

“The U.S. military relies on strong partnerships with nations around the world to ensure our security here at home and that of our allies,” said Maj. Gen. Mark J. Schindler, Pennsylvania Adjutant General. “The process of building these partnerships starts here with you.

“The State Partnership Program is just one example of the diverse roles the National Guard plays in the U.S. military,” Schindler added. “We in the National Guard have a dual mission: domestically to respond to natural disasters and civil unrest, and overseas to fight our nation’s wars.”

During the visit, the group toured the Eastern Army National Guard Aviation Training Site’s Training Support Center and Aviation Maintenance Instruction Building.

“I am deeply impressed by the [training] Facilities here,” reports Colonel Heinz Peter Kinzer, attaché from Austria, about his impressions of the Training Support Center. “It’s very professional. We have similar simulators but we are more limited. It really is a huge and impressive facility.”

Many of the visiting attachés found the duality of the National Guard mission particularly interesting, raising questions about how it works, how the chain of command works, and how missions are funded.

“We have several advantages over the active component, as we’ve demonstrated over the past 20 years during the global war on terror,” Schindler said. “Not only are we in the reserve component more cost-effective than full-time soldiers and airmen, but we also bring a variety of skills from full-time careers in the civilian world that act as force multipliers in combat.”

Military response to homeland emergencies is not limited to America. However, few nations have a response effort as well developed as the National Guard.

For example, the UK often deploys military aid to civilian powers in response to homeland crises, said Air Vice-Marshal Mick Smeath, a UK attaché. However, this response is stripped from active duty units, removing them from their military roles.

“Fort Indiantown Gap has amazing capabilities,” Smeath said. “It truly is the jewel in the crown of the Pennsylvania National Guard. I’m amazed at the sheer scope of the possibilities here. There is nothing like it in the UK.”

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