AMMAN, Jordan --
Joint training and a longtime State Partnership Program relationship benefit both the National Guard and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Air Force Gen. Joseph Lengyel said during a recent visit here.
"The National Guard is contributing to our nation's enduring commitment to Jordan's security," the general said. "In turn, the mutual training our troops are engaged in increases their readiness."
The chief of the National Guard Bureau and Army Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher Kepner, senior enlisted advisor, visited with troops, observed ongoing joint training and met with key leaders during a visit that ended Saturday. The two spent time with Guard members from Alaska, Arizona, California, Guam, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, Tennessee, Vermont, Wisconsin and other states serving here.
"The real-world training our Guardsmen and women are doing is a huge win for increasing readiness," the command sergeant major said.
Training missions like the ones Guard members are engaged in here also help ensure the National Guard remains an operational force, Lengyel said.
National Guard members training with the Jordan Armed Forces Border Guard Forces is one example of the close cooperation between the two nations: Guard members put the Jordanian border force through a program modeled on the Army's Basic Combat Training, an enduring Guard mission.
Jordan is paired with the Colorado National Guard in the State Partnership Program (SPP). Since their relationship was established back in 2004, joint training, exercises and other exchanges have deepened and strengthened the partnership.
The elevation of the contribution of noncommissioned officers in the Jordan Armed Forces is just one example of Colorado's lasting impacts here. The Jordan Armed Forces have enhanced NCO roles and responsibilities, for example, by creating positions similar to senior enlisted advisors in the United States. Traditionally, Jordanian NCOs did not have that degree of empowerment.
Colorado also is playing a key role in helping the Jordan Armed Forces create written standard operating procedures for its NCO corps.
"This relationship is one of the strongest in the State Partnership Program and a striking example of what success looks like in these partnerships," Lengyel said. "The relationships Colorado has built at all ranks with the Jordan Armed Forces and the Royal Jordanian Air Force are extraordinary."
The SPP between Jordan and Colorado is conducted in close coordination and collaboration with the Department of State and U.S. Central Command. The partners typically undertake between a dozen and two dozen formal engagement events each year, including joint training and exercises.
"We are more effective in our ability to fight America's wars and secure the homeland because of the partnerships we form at home and abroad," Lengyel said. "Partnerships happen at the local, state, federal and international level, and they are invaluably strengthened by professional relationships formed at every rank, from the most junior to the most senior."
Kepner said he hopes junior enlisted members understand the impact they have in strengthening partnerships. "When you interact with your foreign partner counterparts, to them you are the face of America," Kepner said. "You represent our nation. Never underestimate the importance of this responsibility or discount the contribution you are making."
Engagements between Colorado and Jordan include NCO development; aviation safety and maintenance training; junior officer development; and exchanges on specific tasks aligned with the combatant command's priorities.
The visit was one of several the chief of the National Guard Bureau and the senior enlisted advisor typically make overseas each year to assess the National Guard's ongoing contributions to the Joint Force, evaluate troop morale and performance, hear from Guard members firsthand, and strengthen partnerships through engagements with key leaders.
"Spending time on the ground with our Soldiers and Airmen is one of the absolute highlights of my job," Lengyel said. "I enormously value hearing Guard members' insights. Our people are our most important weapon system."
In return, Lengyel shares his strategic-level perspective with troops, helping them see how their individual and unit contributions fit into the bigger picture and contribute to Joint Force operations.
"The National Guard's military and partnership-building capabilities assure our allies, deter our foes and strengthen enduring partnerships," Lengyel said.
The chief also recognized high-performing troops and performed a mass re-enlistment during his visit. "It is fantastic to be able to tell even a few troops directly how much their individual contributions are appreciated at the very highest levels of our nation's leadership," Lengyel said. "They might not realize it, but their words are heard at the very highest levels as I share their insights and observations in discussions with my counterparts and with our civilian leaders."
The Guard members Lengyel spent time with here are among more than 27,000 Citizen-Soldiers and -Airmen serving overseas. An additional 10,000 are engaged in homeland missions.
The combat reserve of the Army and the Air Force, the National Guard accounts for more than 20 percent of all the personnel serving in the Armed Forces. The National Guard supports the National Defense Strategy by fighting America's wars, securing the homeland and building partnerships.
Gen. Lengyel is the 28th chief of the National Guard Bureau and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He ensures the 450,000 Army and Air National Guard Soldiers and Airmen are accessible, capable and ready to provide combat forces to the Army and the Air Force and to protect the homeland.
As the National Guard's senior enlisted member, Command Sgt. Maj. Kepner is the chief's principal military advisor on all enlisted matters affecting training, utilization, health of the force, and enlisted professional development.