By Pacific Island Times News Staff
The Nevada National Guard and the government of Samoa have established a partnership that would lay the foundation for the development of defense forces in the Pacific nation and "facilitate mutual support and cooperation" on emergency management and humanitarian assistance.
Nevada Guard Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Ondra Berry and Samoa's Police Minister Faualo Harry Schuster signed the declaration of partnership on July 6 in Apia, Samoa. The announcement was made this week.
Officials said the newly formed State Partnership Program team "will leverage the unique defense capabilities, skills and resources of the Nevada National Guard and contribute to the long-term development and growth of Samoa's defense forces, emergency management, and national security sectors."
Officials said the partnership "promises to fortify the bonds between Samoa and the United States and represents a significant milestone in diplomacy and cooperation between the two nations."
“The signing between Samoa and the state of Nevada is a big step forward in our bilateral partnership. The State Partnership program will enable new possibilities in disaster response, humanitarian assistance, cultural exchange, and much more,” said Tom Udall, U.S. ambassador to Samoa.
Samoa is the Nevada Guard’s third partner, following a team-up with Fiji in 2018 and Tonga in 2014.
According to the National Guard Bureau, there are now 100 security cooperation agreements between the National Guard states, territories and the District of Columbia and countries around the world.
The total reflects that more than half of the world's 195 sovereign-recognized nations are participating in the State Partnership Program.
Samoa is composed of numerous islands in the South Pacific Ocean and lies about halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand.
The country has a population of about 207,000 and about 75 percent live on the island of Upolu. Its total land mass is just slightly smaller than Rhode Island at 2,831 sq.km.
The Nevada Guard-Samoa partnership was launched as the National Guard’s State Partnership Program marks its 30th anniversary this month.
The State Partnership Program is a Department of Defense program that pairs National Guard states with foreign countries.
"The State Partnership Program agreement creates a platform for representatives from Samoa and Nevada Guard to engage in cultural exchanges, economic collaboration and educational opportunities," states a press release from Nevada Guard headquarters.
"As ties deepen, the program promises to build shared understanding, promote cultural appreciation, and develop lasting friendships between Samoans and Nevadans."