Maj. Gen. John C. Harris Jr. talking with Hungarian commanders.

Photo by Stephanie Beougher, Ohio National Guard Public Affairs

Maj. Gen. John C. Harris Jr. (right), Ohio adjutant general, presents a carved medallion to Gen. Milan Mojsilović, chief of the Serbian Armed Forces General Staff, to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the State Partnership Program collaboration between Ohio and Serbia Sept. 8, 2022, in Belgrade Serbia. The anniversary milestone was in 2021, but the COVID-19 pandemic prevented Harris from traveling to present the medallion until this year. The ceremony was part of an Ohio delegation’s official visit Sept. 7-10, 2022, which included meetings with Serbia’s president, prime minister and SAF senior leadership.

Ohio, Serbia celebrate spirit of cooperation during annual capstone event

Story by Stephanie Beougher, Ohio National Guard Public Affairs

BELGRADE, Serbia (09/30/22)

The 16-year partnership between the Ohio National Guard and the Serbian Armed Forces was celebrated during an Ohio delegation’s Sept. 7-10 visit to Serbia, led by Maj. Gen. John C. Harris Jr., Ohio adjutant general. The events in Belgrade included meetings with Serbia’s president, prime minister and Serbian Armed Forces senior leadership.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić awarded the Order of the Serbian Flag (2nd class) to Harris during a Sept. 8 ceremony in the presidency building to mark the successful cooperation that began between the Ohio National Guard and Serbian Armed Forces in 2006 through the Department of Defense State Partnership Program. The order is awarded for development of international relations between the Republic of Serbia and other countries. Harris said it was a “great honor” to receive the order from Vučić, and that he accepted on behalf of all of Ohio and the Ohio National Guard.

The spirit of cooperation between Ohio and Serbia was also part of the discussion during the “Day of America in Belgrade” conference held that same day at the House of the National Assembly. Harris addressed the conference attendees about the foundation laid by the Ohio and Serbian military partnership.

“By working together, side-by-side, we are creating a safer world,” Harris said. “Our partnership also extends beyond military cooperation, as Serbia and Ohio are facilitating collaboration across the spectrum, from education to economics. You can count on the Ohio National Guard’s consistent engagement. You can count on us to work together for a shared future.”

“By working together, side-by-side, we are creating a safer world,” Harris said. “Our partnership also extends beyond military cooperation, as Serbia and Ohio are facilitating collaboration across the spectrum, from education to economics. You can count on the Ohio National Guard’s consistent engagement. You can count on us to work together for a shared future.”

Among the members of the Ohio delegation were two civilian education representatives who visited schools and met with Serbian education officials to discuss further cooperation. The visit was a follow up to a memorandum of understanding signed last year among the Serbian Ministry of Education, Ohio Department of Education and Ohio Department of Higher Education to pledge continued cooperation at the primary, secondary and higher education levels.

At a meeting with Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić, the conversation included ways to expand the partnership including cybersecurity, as well as developing more opportunities for members of the Serbian Armed Forces to come to the United States to participate in training exercises.

“We continue to focus on critical shared priorities such as cybersecurity, peacekeeping and medical,” Harris said. “We are committed to expanding areas of cooperation and finding new avenues of partnership to promote our shared values.”

The State Partnership Program, managed by the National Guard Bureau, has been successfully building relationships for over 25 years and now includes 85 partnerships with 93 nations around the globe. In addition to Serbia, Ohio has been paired with Hungary since 1993.

 

Photos by Stephanie Beougher, Ohio National Guard Public Affairs