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Slovenia, Colorado recognize 20 years of National Guard’s international relations

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- A ceremony was held May 27 at the Colorado National Guard Army Aviation Support Facility, Buckley AFB, to recognize the National Guard's 20th anniversary of the State Partnership Program.

H.E. Mr. Roman Jakič, Minister of Defense, Republic of Slovenia; Brig. Gen. Dobran Bozic, Chief of the General Staff (CHOD), Slovene Armed Forces, Republic of Slovenia; and Ambassador Roman Kirn, Republic of Slovenia Embassy-Washington, D.C., joined Maj. Gen. H. Michael Edwards, the Adjutant General of Colorado, to celebrate this milestone of international relations.

The National Guard's 65-nation, 20-year-old State Partnership Program provides unique partnership capacity-building capabilities to combatant commanders and U.S. ambassadors through partnerships between U.S. states, territories and the District of Columbia and foreign countries.

The SPP supports U.S. national interests and security cooperation goals by engaging partner nations via military, socio-political and economic conduits at the local, state and national level.

The SPP evolved from a 1991 U.S. European Command decision to set up the Joint Contact Team Program in the Baltic Region with Reserve component Soldiers and Airmen. A subsequent National Guard Bureau proposal paired U.S. states with three nations emerging from the former Soviet Bloc and the SPP was born, becoming a key U.S. security cooperation tool, facilitating cooperation across all aspects of international civil-military affairs and encouraging people-to-people ties at the state level.

Colorado's partnership with the Republic of Slovenia began in 1994, and has resulted in an average of 20 exchanges a year. In 2004, Colorado formed a second partnership with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the first and only Middle Eastern nation in the program.

"The program has formed many personal, lasting relationships," said Edwards. "It's relationships like these that change preconceived notions and are truly able to change the world by developing trust and partnerships that last a career and beyond."

"The Colorado National Guard has been a great military partner," said Bozic. "As a true testament of the friendship, we have deployed together to Afghanistan and continue to look for future military collaborations. Deployments are the benchmark of a trusting partners - putting your life in your friend's hands."