NY National Guard, Brazil discuss SPP exchange opportunities
By Col. Richard Goldenberg, New York National Guard
/ Published December 12, 2019
SCOTIA, N.Y -- New York National Guard commanders welcomed Brazilian Maj. Gen. Marcio de Calazans Braga to Stratton Air National Guard Base Dec. 11 for a day-long discussion on the future of their new partnership.
Maj. Gen. Ray Shields, the adjutant general of New York, brought New York Army and Air Guard leaders together to outline the New York National Guard's commitment to the partnership and to discuss capabilities for Calazans Braga and two of his staff, U.S. Defense and State Department officials.
"This is about how we can learn from each other," Shields told Calazans Braga. "New York is looking forward to moving ahead as a partner, and our Soldiers and Airmen are excited to learn from their counterparts in Brazil."
Brazil and the New York National Guard entered into a National Guard State Partnership Program agreement in March.
"We have made great strides to engage each other in discussions and best practice exchanges," Shields said.
The discussions focused on structure, capabilities, training and equipment of both militaries, along with the challenges faced in supporting national defense and civil support operations.
New York and Brazil face challenges preparing service members for the broad spectrum of operations that both forces conduct, noted retired Army Col. Patrick Mathes.
Mathes represented the National Defense University and the U.S. Southern Command William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies.
But the similarities far outweigh the differences between the two military forces, Mathes added.
Whether the mission is homeland security in New York City for the National Guard or border security for the Brazilian Army, the two partners walked away from the engagement seeing the opportunities in the partnership to learn and improve both formations, Mathes said.
"The operations of both partners clearly have unique features and demands, but the common ground for both organizations shows us a way ahead to learn from each other, pick up best practices and find more ways to work together," Mathes said.
Brazil is very interested in the partnership with New York for its variety of skills and capabilities across Army and Air Guard units, said Brazilian Col. Sandro Bernardon, the Brazilian liaison for Air Force South.
"Cyber and space are two of our biggest areas of interest," Bernardon said.
Combat rescue, remotely piloted aircraft operations, homeland security and interagency missions of the National Guard, and New York's Counterdrug Task Force were also areas of interest, aligning with other missions in the Brazil Armed Forces, he added.
The most important part of the growing partnership will be the impact on Soldiers and Airmen in both formations, Shields said.
From training exercises, military education opportunities or information exchanges, New York Soldiers and Airmen are excited for the events ahead, the general said.
"I can't stress enough the value and impact these exchanges have on our individual Soldiers and Airmen," Shields said. "They benefit not just by learning from Brazil's partners, but really broaden their military experiences as members of the Guard."
The Brazilian armed forces and the New York National Guard have already had several exchange activities since March.
- Airmen from the 109th Airlift Wing, which specializes in polar operations, meeting with Brazilian C-130 aircrew.
- The 174th Attack Wing sending experts on remotely piloted aircraft operations to Brazil.
- The 106th Rescue Wing hosting Brazilian officers.
- The New York National Guard hosting Brazilian Lt. Gen. Achille Furlan Neto.
- New York Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Thomas Carpenter graduating from the arduous Brazilian Jungle Warfare Training Center's international course.
"Having heard from both partners today, it is clear to me that New York is the right choice as a partner for Brazil," said Tyler Sparks, senior Brazil desk officer with the U.S. State Department. "There is so much here for both partners to gain from."
In addition to the Brazil partnership, the New York National Guard has had a relationship under the State Partnership Program with the South African National Defence Force since 2003.