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Friday, October 13, 2000

Photo courtesy of Hawaii National Guard
Hawaii Army National Guard Pvt. Lorinda Ballesteros, of
Hanamaulu, sights down the barrel of her M-16 rifle during
annual weapons qualification in July at Schofield Barracks.
Nearly 22 percent of the Hawaii National Guard's force of
5,500 are of Filipino ancestry, which has helped create a
partnership between the Hawaii National Guard and
the Philippine armed forces.

Citizen soldiers foster
U.S.-Philippine alliance

By Gregg K. Kakesako

The close family and ethnic ties between the Hawaii National Guard and the Philippines have resulted in a new partnership between the guard and the Philippine armed forces.

It is the first such alliance with a Pacific nation. However, 31 other states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico now have similar alliances with European, Central Asian and Latin American countries under the National Guard Bureau's State Partnership Program.

The program is designed to help the countries understand how the National Guard helps support civil authorities, said John Infante, deputy chief of international affairs for the National Guard Bureau in Washington, D.C.

Citizen soldiers of the National Guard, Infante said, are good role models since they are both professional soldiers and civilians.

Hawaii Army National Guard Col. Stanley Keolanui, plans, operations and military support officer, said the initial planning meeting was held in August and the two countries decided to hold two workshops each year.

"We will send a team to the Philippines in February," said Keolanui, "and host them here in June and include them in our hurricane exercise."

"This is an opportunity to work with a foreign country and share ideas," Keolanui said. "We will expose them to the programs we have and get a chance to see some of theirs."

Nearly 22 percent of the Hawaii National Guard's force of 5,500 citizen soldiers and airmen and women are Filipino Americans, making them the largest ethnic group, said Capt. Chuck Anthony, Hawaii National Guard spokesman.

Anthony said Filipinos account for:

Bullet 18 percent, or 450 airmen and women, of the 2,500-member Hawaii Air National Guard.

Bullet 25 percent, or 750, of the 3,000 Hawaii Army National Guard soldiers.

After the Philippines became a U.S. territory following the Spanish-American War, many Filipinos migrated to Hawaii. As far back as 1915, the Hawaii Guard had one company, based in Honolulu, that was made up of only Filipinos. During World War I, Filipino recruits led the number of soldiers enlisted or inducted into the service, according to Hawaii National Guard records.

Hawaii Army National Guard Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Edward "Butchie" Correa said, "under the state partnership program, Hawaii and Guam have established military-to-military relationships to assist" the Philippine armed forces.

Earlier this month, Correa took his team to Guam to meet with National Guard officials there who are co-partners in this venture. The outcome of that meeting, which included representatives of the Philippine armed forces, will be a series of workshops on how the military supports civilian authorities, disaster response and humanitarian missions.

Keolanui said these workshops also could cover subjects such as maintenance programs and leadership development.

The Philippine armed forces have about 115,000 active duty members and 50,000 reservists.

Correa said the program is in support of Adm. Dennis Blair, Pacific Forces commander, and the U.S. policy to bring stability to the Pacific region.

Infante said the National Guard Bureau's program was initiated in 1993 following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

"After the fall of the Berlin Wall," Infante said, "Lithuania addressed the (U.S.) Defense Department with a desire to establish a reserve force patterned after what America has."

The intent was to focus a small part of the Defense Department -- a state National Guard -- on a single country in support of U.S. government policies.

Other partnerships

A list of National Guard State Partnership participants:


Alabama - Romania
California & Kansas - Ukraine
Colorado - Slovenia
Georgia - Republic of Georgia
Illinois - Poland
Indiana - Slovakia
Maryland - Estonia
Michigan - Latvia
Minnesota - Croatia
North Carolina - Moldova
Ohio - Hungary
Pennsylvania - Lithuania
South Carolina - Albania
Tennessee - Bulgaria
Texas & Nebraska - Czech Republic
Utah - Belarus
Vermont - Macedonia


Arizona - Kazakhstan
Louisiana - Uzbekistan
Montana - Kyrgyzstan
Nevada - Turkmenistan


Connecticut - Uruguay
Florida - Venezuela
Kentucky - Ecuador
Mississippi - Bolivia
Missouri - Panama
New Hampshire - El Salvador
Puerto Rico - Honduras
Washington, D.C. - Jamaica
West Virginia - Peru


Hawaii & Guam - Philippines

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