Bilateral Defense Committee Co-Chair Dr. Thobelile Gamade, the Chief of South African Defense Policy, Strategy and Planning, at right, provides concluding remarks alongside her counterpart Amanda Dory, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for African affairs. The senior leaders of the South African National Defense Forces discussed training and exercise opportunities for 2017 during the U.S. and Republic of South Africa Bilateral Defense Committee meeting Oct. 26, 2016, at the New York State Military Museum in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. (Photo by Col. Richard Goldenberg)
Story by Col. Richard Goldenberg for New York National Guard
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – South African National Defense Force and Department of Defense officials locked down plans for joint U.S./ South African military training in 2017 during a three-day meeting here hosted by the New York National Guard.
More than three dozen leaders from the U.S. and South Africa attended the three-day gathering held at the New York State Military Museum in Saratoga Springs – best known for its world famous race course-- to plan for cooperative events for the coming year.
New York has been a partner with the Republic of South Africa since 2003 for combined training and shared military to military activities through the National Guard's State Partnership Program. New York volunteered to host this year's gathering because of that relationship.
"I'm so grateful to the New York National Guard for this facility to host our meeting, in such a historical setting," said U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs Amanda Dory, a co-chair of the bilateral meeting.
The National Guard's State Partnership Program is guided by State Department foreign policy goals, and supports combatant commander security cooperation objectives.
For example, a month prior to this Bilateral Defense Committee meeting, the New York Air National Guard participated in the Africa Aerospace and Defense Expo at Waterkloof Air Base with a C-17A Globemaster III, the MQ-9 Reaper, and several other pieces of equipment. Airmen and Soldiers engaged with South African military peers and community members during the show.
The U.S. - South Africa Defense Committee is how the two militaries jointly manage their defense relationship. The meeting, formally established in 1997, gives a forum to military planners from both nations to plan bilateral defense and security initiatives that translate to missions and training exercises in the coming year for Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines.
"South Africa is truly a defense and diplomatic leader on the continent," Dory said. "We have very strong common interests and have had a very strong partnership now for decades."
In addition to hosting this year's meeting, New York Army National Guard Maj. Brian Bonnano, the Guard's bilateral affairs officer serving in Pretoria, South Africa, led a joint operations working group effort to identify training opportunities in the coming year that will promote U.S. - South Africa security cooperation and strengthen the state partnership with the New York National Guard as well.
"The South African National Defense Force is very capable," Bonnano said. "They do a variety of missions. We're just proud to be able to help them administer those missions and maintain their readiness."
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