Ohio, Serbia strengthen their 13-year partnership during CAPSTONE 2019
Story by Senior Airman Amber Mullen, Ohio National Guard Public Affairs
BELGRADE, Serbia (10/11/19)
Thirty Ohio National Guard members visited with their Serbian military partners Sept. 8-15 to participate in the annual State Partnership Program CAPSTONE event.
Every year, Ohio National Guard members conduct the visit to highlight the partnership between Ohio and Serbia. The events of CAPSTONE 2019 focused on topics including cyber, chaplaincy, crisis communication, a medical field casualty care workshop and meetings between key members from the Ohio National Guard and Serbian Armed Forces.
The annual visit of Ohio National Guard members highlight the previous year’s partnership events between the Serbian Armed Forces and Ohio National Guard, said Gen. Milan Mojsilović, chief of defense of the Serbian Armed Forces. This visit marked the first year Maj. Gen. John C. Harris Jr. visited Serbia as Ohio adjutant general. Harris met with Serbia’s senior leaders to discuss ways to continue to strengthen, develop and expand the partnership with Serbia that was established in 2006.
Harris met with Mojsilović, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić (who led a delegation during a January visit to Ohio), Serbian Minister of Defense Aleksandar Vulin, Serbian Land Forces Commander Lt. Gen. Milosav Simović and other senior military and civilian leaders.
“This is a good opportunity not only to summarize the activities, the tasks and the result achieved but it is also an opportunity to define the activities for the next year and level of ambition of the cooperation in the period to come,” Mojsilović said.
In 2019, Ohio National Guard Airmen and Soldiers worked side by side with their Serbian counterparts in training and relationship-developing exercises such as Platinum Wolf 2019, Exercise Neighbors (also conducted with Hungary, Ohio’s other State Partnership Program pairing), Cyber Tesla, Vigilant Guard and CAPSTONE 2019.
Through the State Partnership Program, Ohio and Serbia are able to nurture their friendship by conducting exchanges that focus on both nations’ military strengths and best practices in air and land forces interoperability, disaster management and professional development.
“The Ohio National Guard remains committed to our partnership and the development and stability of Serbia,” Harris said. “It is important that we share tactics and work on interoperability through our exchanges. Personal relationships improve national relationships. As national relationships continue to grow, so will economic opportunities and better diplomatic opportunities, which is good for both nations.”
This partnership increases strength in peacetime that will improve capabilities in times of conflict. The partnership enhances joint training, builds cultural understanding, and showcases the accomplishments of nations collaborating to achieve security cooperation goals and the ability to work together to address international threats, such as terrorism.
“We have truly achieved a lot within the domain of military-to-military cooperation,” Mojsilović said, adding, “We have always tried to arrive at mutual benefit within the process of conducting activities.”
The 13-year-old partnership between Ohio and Serbia has served as the foundation to expand relationships between the nations to military-to-civilian and civilian-to-civilian interactions.
“The greatest benefit is the sincere friendship that (has been) formed,” Mojsilović said. “This will be transmitted to the generations to come.”