On Monday, May 15th 2018 a senior delegation of Qatari military officials visited the state Capitol in Charleston, WV to meet with Governor Jim Justice and the WV National Guard leadership to commemorate Qatar’s new defense partnership with the West Virginia National Guard.
The high-level delegation included senior members of West Virginia’s government and Qatar’s military representatives in the United States:
Governor Jim Justice and Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, the Adjutant General of the WVNG, hosted Qatar’s Defense Attaché, Brig. Gen. Yousef Al Kuwari; Qatar’s Air Force Attaché, Col. Mohamed Al Manai; and Qatar’s Army Attaché, Col. Khalid Al Naimi, along with Qatar Defense Attaché Government Affairs representative, Ms. Sarah El-Zeini for the introductory meeting at the West Virginia Capitol and later toured the facilities of the 130th Airlift Wing.
The visit celebrated the new State Partnership Program between the West Virginia National Guard and Qatar’s Armed Forces:
The program will enable joint exchanges of forces to conduct training and partnership exercises. Through the partnership with Qatar, the WVNG will seek to increase military and diplomatic cooperation, develop and expand defense capabilities and mutually beneficial training interactions. In addition, the two entities will work to increase interoperability of forces and deter and disrupt criminal and terrorist activities in the region.
The premise of the State Partnership Program is to promote peace and stability throughout the world,” said U.S. Army Capt. Joshua Goforth, the WVNG SPP director. “Our new partnership will play a significant role in ensuring that premise is carried out through our enduring relationship with Qatar and their military forces.
Sen. Joe Manchin offered words of hope for the partnership he helped to facilitate:
I worked with the Department of Defense and the West Virginia National Guard to secure our State Partnership Program with Qatar and this visit has been a long time in the works. I believe very strongly this partnership will blossom and lead to economic opportunities that will help diversify our economy and I look forward to working together.
In addition to partnership’s defense agreements, economic and cultural benefits are already taking place in West Virginia due to the partnership:
Beyond military cooperation, West Virginia and Qatar stand to benefit from the SPP both economically and culturally. Both are rich in natural resources and have unique cultures that will foster an enduring relationship that demonstrates the power of diplomacy.
Qatar has already contributed to the West Virginia economy by investing $50,000 in Reconnecting McDowell, a comprehensive, long-term initiative to revitalize McDowell County. The SPP will deepen and strengthen the ongoing partnership between West Virginia and Qatar.
Qatari Defense Attache Gen. Yousef Al-Kuwari praised his hosts for their warm welcome and looks forward to receiving a West Virginia Delegation in Qatar later this year:
It was a great honor to be in the company of Senator Manchin, Governor Justice and Congressmen from the state of West Virginia. I found the statesmen, military personnel, and people of West Virginia to be most warm and welcoming, a hospitality similar to my country.
Although our terrains are different, our principles are the same and we are pleased to have West Virginia as our partner. We held great bilateral meetings which were joined by statesmen, CENTCOM officials, and the National Guard. Together, creatively and cooperatively, we can make the most of the West Virginia National Guard State Partnership Program with Qatar. We look forward to welcoming the senior officials to Qatar this year.
In the following months, leaders plan on signing a memorandum of understanding as well as establishing concrete plans for training and support missions between the military forces.
This is the second partner nation for the WVNG and the sixth SPP partnership in the United States Central Command area of responsibility.