Tonga Military, Nevada National Guard Enter Into Partnership

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US Army’s State Partnership Program to focus on education, renewable energy

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, April 14, 2014) – Tonga’s army has entered a formal partnership program with the National Guard of Nevada that will strengthen their military cooperation in a new working relationship.

The partnership declaration was signed in Nuku'alofa on April 11, by Brigadier General Tau'aika 'Uta'atu of His Majesty's Armed Forces and Brigadier General William Burks of the National Guard of the State of Nevada, USA.

Brig. Gen. Burks said that they have mutual interests, "Education is foremost and renewable energy is huge…"

He said that Tonga and Nevada have their similarities, but also their differences. One is that Tonga has 100,000 square miles of water dotted with a few islands, while Nevada has 110,000 square miles of desert with a few dotted of water. There are about 6,000 Tongans in Nevada.

He believed that from a military opportunity standpoint, their cooperation would be limited only by their imagination. "There will be Peace Keeping Operations, counter narcotics, counter terrorism, special training of enlisted officers, and civil engineering."

He said that the essence of the program was to promote a better understanding and trust between the National Guard of the State of Nevada and His Majesty's Army - the second army to sign a State Partnership Program with them, and the first in the Pacific. The United States Army has State Partnership Programs with 68 countries world-wide.

Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, the Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, and the man who was credited by both Brig. Gen. 'Uta'atu and Brig.Gen. Burks for his vision for the State Partnership Program, stressed the good working relation between Tonga and the United States of America. He pointed out that Tongan soldiers fought alongside American soldiers in Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Tonga formalized its working relation with the USA in 1972. The State Partnership Program Declaration was initiated in 2009 and formalized on Friday.

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