In August, the Texas National Guard and Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) celebrated 20 years of cooperation through the Peace Prairie partnership at a ceremony held on Circle Ranch in Flower Mound, Texas. The RSAF partnered with the Guard after purchasing Chinook helicopters and seeking an outside force that could provide the best flight training for their pilots. Through training in Texas, Singaporean airmen learn official American airspace regulations, participate in joint Texas-Singapore exercises, and train to fly in adverse conditions. Meanwhile, Texas National Guard members benefit from the opportunity to collaborate with foreign military units while not deployed.
The US and Singapore established formal relations in 1966 and have enjoyed a security partnership since 1990. In addition to training in Texas, the RSAF conducts military drills code-named Forging Sabre at the Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range in Arizona every other year. Both the Peace Prairie partnership and Forging Sabre drills serve to strengthen defense ties between US states and Singapore.
Other National Guard divisions have cooperated with armed forces in the Asia-Pacific to enhance mutual security through State Partnership Programs. There are currently eight defense partnerships between US states or territories and countries in the Asia-Pacific region: Hawai‘i, Guam, and the Philippines; Washington and Thailand; Alaska and Mongolia; Hawai‘i and Indonesia; Oregon and Bangladesh; Idaho and Cambodia; Oregon and Vietnam; and Nevada and Tonga. Each National Guard division partners with a foreign military that is of comparable size and has similar missions. Typically, partners conduct joint exercises that prepare them for future peacekeeping operations or emergency management scenarios. They also exchange a range of skills and foster comradery among the troops. National Guards form these partnerships with their counterparts in Asia-Pacific countries to strengthen defense capabilities on both sides and to improve the outcome of international humanitarian relief.
Kim Meihua Roy is a Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington and a student at Brigham Young University.