Alabama, Romania strengthen ties through COVID-19 response
By Sgt. Jaccob Hearn | 131st Mobile Public Affairs Detachment June 12, 2020
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- The Alabama National Guard hosted a delegation of civilian and military personnel from its partner nation, Romania, from the end of May through early June.
The visit was part of the National Guard Bureau's State Partnership Program, which allows for the exchange of knowledge and experiences between states and partnered nations.
"Working with Romania increases our readiness and improves how we can work together within our individual capabilities," said Lt. Col. Jay Skinner, the command judge advocate and delegation visit escort, with the 31st Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) Brigade.
The delegation, made up of CBRN and medical specialists, split into two teams. One group went south toward Mobile and the other north of Montgomery, switching halfway through their mission. They visited Guard units, long-term care facilities and hospitals across the state, discussing medical emergency and COVID-19 response strategies, best practices and standard operating procedures.
"We in Romania value the long-standing, enduring friendship we have established with the Alabama National Guard, and this mission, executed by the Romanian medical and CBRN military teams, signifies not only an opportunity to give a concrete proof of solidarity and support to the USA, our most important strategic partner, but also to gain valuable knowledge on how the state of Alabama is dealing with the pandemic," said Romanian Army Col. Catalin Constantin Mihalache, Defense, Military, Naval and Air attaché of the Embassy of Romania.
Romania and Alabama became partners in 1993. They have had numerous diplomatic visits and training missions with each other to improve interoperability and strengthen the NATO mission on both hemispheres.
While in Alabama, both teams also visited Fort McClellan Training Center in Anniston to check opportunities for joint training.
"We are interfacing this Romanian delegation with our training site leadership and we are bringing Romanians to America and sending Americans to Romania," said Capt. Stephan Vance, commander of the 208th Chemical Company, and delegation visit escort.
Romanian Col. Teodor Spanu, branch chief of the National Military Command Bucuresti, said the two-week exchange provided opportunities to share operational tactics and training philosophies.
"It is a great experience. We have unique capabilities, and this visit lets us provide a sense of how we can help everyone in need," Spanu said. "This is a great opportunity to discuss with the Alabama National Guard and detail ways we could train together in the future."
"We are thankful to all of the brave men and women who serve the local communities and abroad in the middle of COVID-19," said Mihalache. "This speaks volumes about the character of these brave Soldiers and gives me hope that the future of our nations are in good hands."
Maj. Gen. Sheryl E. Gordon, the adjutant general of the Alabama National Guard, said she was "thankful for partners who are just as willing to lend their knowledge and people to us as we are to them, and I am excited to continue to grow the relationship in new and innovative ways."
Several training operations were planned in Romania this year but were delayed due to the pandemic. Plans are in the works for future joint exercises between Alabama and Romania.
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