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NEWS | July 30, 2021

Michigan National Guard, Liberia strengthen SPP partnership

By Master Sgt. David Eichaker, Michigan National Guard

GRAYLING, Mich. – The Michigan National Guard is solidifying its relationship with the Armed Forces of the Republic of Liberia under the State Partnership Program during the Northern Strike 21 exercise.

Soldiers from Liberia are among an estimated 5,100 participants from various states and countries for Northern Strike 21. The exercise is at two locations that make up the National All Domain Warfighting Center (NADWC) — Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center and the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center.

"We conducted vehicle rollover and weapons training with the Liberian Army today," said Spc. Noah Schlief, 125th Infantry Regiment, Michigan Army National Guard. "We taught them the main components of the M4, M16, and M249 squad automatic weapon, and how to fire and engage targets effectively."

"We are going over aspects of loading, unloading, engaging and proper sight picture on the weapons and teaching them how to actively engage and safely operate the weapon system," he added.

The weapons training was conducted on the engagement skills trainer, an indoor, multipurpose, small arms training simulator.

"This is our first time using the M4 rifle, and the soldiers are very happy about it," said Armed Forces of the Republic of Liberia Maj. Philemon Silikpoh. "We are very thankful for our partners, and we are very appreciative for having the opportunity to take part in this training. This training will make us all better soldiers."

The State Partnership Program links a unique component of the Department of Defense - a state's National Guard - with the armed forces or equivalent of a partner country in a cooperative, mutually beneficial relationship.

"It's nice to work with a different country and learning how we do things differently while achieving desired outcomes," Schlief said. "They are really great soldiers who are determined and capable, and it makes me feel good knowing I can rely on them and having them on our side."