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News | March 21, 2023

W.Va. Guard holds Key Leader Engagement with Qatar Partners

By Maj. Holli Nelson

West Virginia National Guard (WVNG) senior leaders and members of the State Partnership Program (SPP) met with Qatari military leadership in Doha, Qatar March 14-16, 2023, to conduct key leader engagement and develop a path forward for future bilateral exchanges in the next year.

The Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Bill Crane, senior enlisted leader, Command Sgt. Maj. Dusty Jones, and chief of the joint staff, Col. Brian Abraham, along with the SPP team and U.S. Embassy - Qatar personnel, met individually and collectively with various high-ranking officials within the Qatar Armed Forces and Qatar National Service Academy to establish priorities and discuss opportunities for information sharing and collaboration between the two militaries.

Altogether, meetings occurred between the WVNG and the U.S. Ambassador to Qatar, Timothy Davis, as well as Qatar Emiri Land Forces, Qatar Emiri Corps of Engineers, Qatar Joint Special Forces and National Service Academy commanding generals, operations officers and other key leaders of the service branches, joint force, and U.S. Embassy-Qatar team.

“Since the onset of our partnership, Qatar has been a valuable and trusted ally to the West Virginia National Guard, and one that brings significant experience and expertise in their various fields,” stated Crane. “This visit was a great opportunity to further deepen our ties with one another and see the remarkable work of their military and National Service Academy while additionally finding new ways we can strengthen our partnership in the years to come.”

In addition to a number of introductory meetings, WVNG leaders saw firsthand how Qatar’s armed forces prepare, utilizing training modules and simulation to ensure a ready force. The NSA was a point of pride during the visit and a location that thoroughly impressed West Virginia Guard leaders.

“It’s our belief that the tremendous work the Qataris are doing through the NSA is similar to programs we have in the United States and West Virginia specifically, and that there are many ways we can partner with one another to enhance readiness and demonstrate pride in our collective organizations,” stated Jones. “The facilities and expertise of staff at the NSA is second to none; I’m looking forward to opportunities to further exchange ideas for mutually beneficial engagements between West Virginia and the NSA, as well as their Emiri Land Forces and JSF.” 

West Virginia leaders also met with U.S. Embassy-Qatar staff and leadership to develop plans and discuss strategic efforts to support the partnership and U.S. Central Command.

As a part of this week’s visit, Abraham, who serves part time in the National Guard, was able to assist in bridging the gap between military and state government understanding between the two partners.

“An overarching goal of the partnership is to ensure a whole of society approach to deepen ties and support security cooperation,” he said. “I believe that the opportunity to meet face to face with our Qatari partners and further understanding of how our state works was extremely beneficial and will allow our relationship to flourish even more.”

This key leader engagement marked the second visit for Crane since taking the role as Adjutant General of West Virginia. The exchange was coordinated as a part of the National Guard Bureau's State Partnership Program (SPP) partnership between West Virginia and Qatar, which has been continually building since 2018.

Through the partnership with Qatar, the WVNG seeks to increase military and diplomatic cooperation, and to develop and expand defense capabilities and mutually beneficial training interactions. In addition, the two entities work closely together to increase interoperability of forces, and to deter and disrupt criminal and terrorist activities in the region.