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By Marcus Tracy
Maj. Gen. Gregory Knight, adjutant general of Vermont, and a delegation of the Vermont National Guard met with the President of Senegal and the African Union in Washington D.C. on December 12.
President Macky Sall, attending the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, sat down with Knight to discuss the almost 15-year partnership between Vermont and Senegal.
“The partnership with Senegal is as strong as ever. It was truly an honor to sit down and chat with President Sall about all the great things we have done together, and all the great things on the horizon,” said Knight. “There is so much we can offer each other.”
President Sall celebrated the support from the Vermont National Guard over the course of the partnership. He specifically identified efforts in developing a Tactical Training Center in Thies and domestic emergency management response to include the Physical Security and Stockpile Management program.
The president also stated his optimism for increased multilateral opportunities with the VTNG’s other partner countries, North Macedonia and Austria.
Knight and Sall discussed other endeavors in the Vermont-Senegal partnership such as the upcoming Medical Readiness Exercise (MEDREX) in early 2023. Vermont has sent personnel to Senegal several times since the signing of the State Partnership Agreement in 2008. The exercise sees Vermont National Guardsmen working side-by-side with Senegalese medical professionals to provide care in military and civilian clinics and hospitals.
Knight followed up on the enthusiasm for growth in the partnership with his plan to expand the relationship beyond military cooperation and foster civilian-to-civilian relationships.
“The goal is a whole-of-society partnership. The connections and the opportunities to learn from each other are where we have seen incredible value on the military side; expanding this partnership to the civilian world would maximize the benefits of the State Partnership Program for both Vermont and Senegal,” said Knight.
The State Partnership Program, administered by the National Guard Bureau, provides an innovative, cost-effective, and small-footprint security cooperation program that connects the National Guard with the militaries of partner nations around the world. Vermont has been paired with North Macedonia since 1993, Senegal since 2008, and most recently Austria in 2021.