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News | Nov. 3, 2021

Iowa National Guard to mark long partnership with Kosovo

By Iowa National Guard Iowa National Guard

The Iowa National Guard will hold a series of events celebrating a decade-long partnership through the State Partnership Program with the Republic of Kosovo from Nov. 5-6 at Camp Dodge in Johnston.

The events will provide a cultural, regional, and sociopolitical framework for government, military, civic and business leaders from Iowa and Kosovo to understand better the opportunities and challenges associated with strengthening this partnership.

Joint events that will commemorate the partnership will include a social, cyber and sustainment training, and a formal dinner.

The State Partnership Program is a joint program developed by the Department of Defense that pairs U.S. states with partner countries to support the security cooperation objectives of regional military commanders. The goal is to conduct activities that build partner capacity and improve interoperability and readiness to meet emerging challenges.

In March 2011, the Iowa National Guard and the Kosovo Security Force signed an agreement to begin this relationship. Soldiers and Airmen collaborate with KSF to increase military, disaster response and emergency management capabilities.

Also in 2011, now-retired Maj. Gen. Tim Orr, then the Iowa National Guard adjutant general, developed the “Whole of Iowa to Whole of Kosovo” concept. This relationship created the Iowa Sister States, a group that collaborates with Kosovo civilian and government organizations. This unique partnership garnered national attention as it has developed into a successful security cooperation model for the rest of the United States.

In the subsequent years, leaders from both countries gathered in Iowa and Kosovo, expressing the importance of this alliance.

Today, Maj Gen. Ben Corell, the Iowa National Guard adjutant general, leads this partnership.

On his first visit to Kosovo in 2019, Corell said he was honored to represent the Iowa National Guard in Kosovo.

“We will continue to be engaged and support the Kosovo Security Force and the U.S. Embassy,” he said.

The Iowa National Guard has plans for several joint training opportunities in 2021 and 2022.