By Tech. Sgt. Garth Dunkel
Vermont National Guard Public Affairs
North Macedonia officially completed its accession into NATO as its 30th ally March 27, following the ratification of the alliance’s accession protocol by all 29 member nations and the conclusion of formal ceremonies at the U.S. Department of State. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed North Macedonia into the “NATO family” at a formal flag-raising event held in Brussels.
“Vermont’s cooperation with North Macedonia, as part of the National Guard’s state partnership program, has been a long, challenging, and very successful journey for over 26 years,” said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Greg Knight, Vermont’s adjutant general.
As one of the more tenured programs, Vermont deployed Soldiers to Afghanistan in 2010 and conducted combat operations alongside their partners from North Macedonia. This marked the first time a National Guard unit deployed and served with an SPP partner.
For over two decades, the Vermont National Guard has supported this partnership through military assistance and training to help their valued partner meet the standards set by NATO. Training to professionalize the noncommissioned officer force, protection of the cyberspace domain, advice on modernization and emergency management are just a few of the avenues in which Vermont guardsmen supports this ongoing collaboration.
Going forward, the Vermont National Guard will focus on continued and consistent engagement with North Macedonia’s senior leaders, professionalization of the force, disaster management, medical readiness, and through military exercises. In order for both entities to strengthen, mutual goals such as sustainable defense processes, interoperability for NATO operations which offers a means for strategic synergy, and in essence, a stronger alliance.
The North Macedonian partnership is a special one as exhibited by its longevity and many successes. On this special day of North Macedonia’s accession into NATO, the Vermont National Guard intends to fully support U.S. European Command’s objectives of promoting regional stability through the Adriatic Charter and participation in all efforts that benefit the people of the Republic of North Macedonia.
“North Macedonia has always been a gracious host, valued training partner and trusted comrade in arms as we braved the hostile mountains of Afghanistan together in 2010. Accession as the 30th NATO member is an amazing milestone for this great nation. This is truly uplifting news in these difficult times. The Vermont National Guard looks forward to continuing our cherished relationship, working with the Minister of Defense, Chief of Defense, professional military and citizens of North Macedonia as our newest NATO partner. The Vermont National Guard offers our heartfelt congratulations on this remarkable accomplishment,” Knight said.