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NEWS | May 17, 2023

Michigan Governor visits National Guard troops, affirms partnership in Latvia

By Capt. Andrew Layton Michigan National Guard Public Affairs

On May 11, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer visited with Michigan National Guard Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 182nd Field Artillery Regiment at Camp Ādaži, Latvia. The Soldiers are in Latvia participating in exercise Solar Eclipse 23, a multinational training exercise to build interoperability between allies on NATO’s eastern flank.

During her trip. Whitmer also met with Latvian President Egils Levits, visited Latvia’s Museum of Occupation, and held meetings with other high-ranking Latvian officials and business leaders.

“Our national security is just as important as our economic security, which is why Michigan Soldiers will continue to play a vital role whether here or abroad,” said Whitmer. “It was important to me to visit Latvia and to thank our troops for their service. With Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine, it has become more important than ever to support our allies around the world to protect democracy. Sharing our expertise helps Latvia bolster their democracy and strengthen their defense forces in Eastern Europe.”

The visit held additional symbolism as Michigan and Latvia celebrate 30th years of cooperation under the National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program (SPP). The SPP links National Guard entities of a U.S. state with the national military organization of a partner or ally nation in a cooperative, mutually beneficial relationship. The Michigan-Latvia cooperation was one of the pioneers of the SPP, which has now expanded to 88 partnerships with 100 nations around the globe.

“I am very proud of this partnership between Latvia and the State of Michigan,” said Whitmer. “It is mutually beneficial for us to train and work together, so to educate the public on why strategic partnerships are in our best interest, as well as Latvia’s, is very important.”

During the visit to Camp Ādaži, Whitmer also took time to watch a M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) fires demonstration, share a Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) lunch with female Soldiers, and see Camp Adazi’s main throughfare, named “Michigan Avenue” in honor of the partnership.

Beyond Michigan’s robust defense cooperation with Latvia, Whitmer said from her meetings with Latvian officials, she sees more opportunities to expand the relationship into more areas, following a “whole of government” approach.

“There are so many likenesses between Michigan and Latvia, from climate to innovation,” she said. “There are many opportunities to collaborate in other parts of our economies, and so we are having a lot of those conversations as well.”