Colombia, South Carolina Establish Bilateral Relationship

By Dialogo
August 06, 2012

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and Colombian Vice Minister of Defense Jorge Enrique Bedoya signed a partnership proclamation on July 23, formally establishing a bilateral relationship between South Carolina and the Republic of Colombia in the National Guard’s State Partnership Program (SPP).

A ceremony at the South Carolina statehouse made the announcement official with the attendance of Colombian and U.S. visitors, including the Colombian Embassy in Washington D.C., the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá, U.S. Southern Command, the National Guard Bureau and the South Carolina National Guard.

The National Guard’s SPP links U.S. states with partner countries for the purposes of supporting the objectives and goals of the geographic combatant commander and the U.S. Ambassador. It promotes national security objectives, country and regional stability, partner nation capacity, and improved understanding and trust throughout the world.

“This is a historic day in South Carolina. We have a new friend and partner. We look forward to strengthening our relationship with Colombia and we look forward to all we are able to share,” Haley said.

The bilateral relationship between South Carolina and Colombia is the 64th state partnership in the program’s history. With the addition of Colombia, there are a now a total of 22 SPP relationships with 28 countries in Central and South America and the Caribbean.

“We have a new friend today that the Republic of Colombia has found with the state of South Carolina. We are very excited about this new relationship. We are now partners for life,” Bedoya said.

The vice minister said that his country and South Carolina have much in common including “the values that we share, the respect for our men and women in uniform, and of course, the fight against terrorism and narco-trafficking.”

For his part, Major General Robert E. Livingston, adjutant general of South Carolina, said, “Both of us – the Colombian Military and the South Carolina National Guard – have a lot of hard lessons learned in counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, consequence management and response to local emergencies in support of local authorities. This truly is a sharing. We don’t have all the answers and the Colombians don’t have all the answers. But as we share we become stronger militaries.”

The program’s goals reflect an evolving international affairs mission for the National Guard to interact with both the active and reserve forces of foreign nations, interagency partners, and international non-governmental organizations, emphasizing the National Guard’s unique state and federal characteristics.