The South Dakota National Guard welcomed leaders of the Suriname military as part of the South Dakota-Suriname State Partnership Program this week. Suriname military leaders from the Army, Navy and Air Force came to observe the Golden Coyote training exercise held in Rapid City and the southern Black Hills.
Suriname is one of six foreign nation's participating in this year's Golden Coyote.
Service chiefs form the Suriname military included; Lt. Col. Marino Acton, Suriname Navy commander, Lt. Col. Robert Kartodikromo, Suriname Air Force commander, and Maj. Richardo Breinburg, Army staff battalion commander, traveled to South Dakota to observe training operations.
The Suriname dignitaries are here on a week-long Subject Matter Expert Exchange to observe training operations, leadership tactics and the different capabilities the South Dakota National Guard has to offer, said Lt. Col. John Weber, South Dakota-Suriname State Partnership Program director.
"These visits are important for them to see the different types of training we conduct," said Weber. "This way they can determine what is going to best suit them in training their units."
The Suriname dignitaries were able to view and participate in some training exercises on West Camp Rapid. They took part in the Leader Reaction Course, where soldiers are tasked to accomplish goals that require the use of team work. The Suriname leaders observed the military operations on urban terrain training, where soldiers are put into scenarios they may encounter in a deployed situation.
The Suriname dignitaries also had the chance to operate the Virtual Convoy Operation Trainer, where soldiers simulate combat convoys in realistic conditions in a combat zone.
"Our goal is to set-up lasting relationships. We want them to be able to ask us for the help in setting-up different types of training," said Weber. "Anytime one of our soldiers gets a chance to work with the Suriname military it's a valuable lesson in working with other cultures and how other countries operate."
The simulators that the South Dakota National Guard uses could benefit our troops greatly, said Breinburg.
"We are seeing training that will be useful to take back to our country," he said. "It will be easy to take back with the help of the Guard."
The State Partnership Program is a 20-year-old program that includes 65 nations who partner with the 54 National Guard states and territories. The partnership of South Dakota and Suriname was established in 2006 and has been growing ever since with several visits a year.
"Senior leaders visit yearly to ensure that everyone continues to stay engaged in our partnership," said Weber. "We want them to start thinking of ways that they would like to see us help them in their operations and training."
Similarities between the two partners makes the relationship beneficial because they can use and share ideas that will work well for each other. South Dakota was chosen to partner with Suriname because of their similarities in population size, land mass, agricultural based economies and lack of significant language barriers.