Texas National Guard hosts Chilean Undersecretary
Story by: Sgt. Elizabeth Peña
Posted: Aug. 17, 2016
AUSTIN, Texas -- Key leaders from the Texas Army National Guard, Air National Guard, and State Guard met with Paulina Vodanovic, Chilean Undersecretary of the Armed Forces, and other leaders during a key leader engagement at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas, August 8, 2016.
Vodanavic is third in the Ministry of Defense. This was the first visit to Texas and only her second visit to the U.S.
“Our focus was operational,” said Rodriguez. “Her experience and background is administrative and legal so we wanted her to understand the relationship the Chilean forces and the ministry of defense have with Texas at the operational level.”
The Texas National Guard has partnered with Chile since 2009 through the National States’ Partnership Program. The program is managed by the National Guard Bureau, and is designed to link a state’s National Guard with a partner nation’s military forces and government agencies in a cooperative, mutually beneficial relationship.
“They basically select states and try to marry them up with nations that have similar capabilities or interest in what they are trying to accomplish,” said Texas Army National Guard Capt. Edgar Guerrero, State Partnership Program Coordinator for Chile.
For Texas and Chile, it creates opportunities for high-level exchanges and cooperation in civic-military activities, Armed Forces initiatives, national territory protection, military support to civilian authority, disaster response in case of emergencies, and handling of a humanitarian catastrophe.
One example of the collaboration efforts is Operation Lone Star, a medical preparedness exercise supported by local, state and federal officials, provided Texas and Chile the opportunity to partner in a real-world exercise that delivers medical care to underprivileged citizens.
“The Chileans come to see how we provide care to disconnected or disadvantaged personnel,” said Guerrero. “They have Easter Island in which they have an indigenous population on an island that’s completely disconnected from the mainland that they go annually to provide care that we’re involved with as well.”
Last year, Texas National Guard and Chile completed approximately 14 military exchanges that included engineering, medical, and disaster response as well as best warrior competitions.
Through these exchanges, Soldiers at ground level, all the way up to general officers gain knowledge and experience from one another.
“In addition, with her being the policy driver in her country for the military,” said Rodriguez, “she is very particular, and interested at that level because she wants to make sure the policies that are developed at the institutional and higher level are exactly what the services need.”
The U.S. has been successfully building relationships for over 20 years that includes 70 unique security partnerships involving 76 nations around the globe.
“Our State Partnership Program is very advanced,” said Rodriguez. The engagement level that the Texas Army National Guard has with Chile is not only at the general officer level but we are operating at the Ministry of Defense level. That’s truly where the impact is made, the decisions are made, and that’s where policy and laws are changed. We are making a significant difference through our SPP relationship not only for Texas but also for the U.S. and Chile.”