Wednesday, April 28, 2010

New York Air Guardsman selected for South Africa post

(4/28/10) -- Maj. Scott "LB" Williams, the deputy support group commander for the New York Air National Guard's 106th Rescue Wing has been selected to represent the New York National Guard, the National Guard, and the U.S. military in South Africa for the next two years.

He will leave for Pretoria, the capitol of the Republic of South Africa, early next month.

Williams will replace Maj. David Panzera as the South Africa bilateral affairs officer, or BAO, for the National Guard's State Partnership Program.

The State Partnership Program pairs American state National Guard's with the militaries of developing nations as a way to build military partnerships and understanding. New York has been paired with South Africa since 2003. The two nations exchange officers and non-commissioned officers for joint training, and New York has sponsored conferences for South African civilian officials as well.

Williams will be based at the U.S. Embassy, working for the New York State Office of Security Cooperation, which is a component of the U.S. Africa Command or Africom. The office represents U.S. defense interests primarily in the republic of South Africa. Williams will also be doing some work in Lesotho and the Kingdom of Swaziland.

"The main purpose of this position is to assist in building relationships between the New York Guard and the partnering nation by planning, coordinating, and executing military to military events and training," Williams said.

His duties will also include managing US security assistance programs, supporting cooperative arms programs, coordinating host nation support, acting as liaison for other defense matters of mutual concern and conceptualizing, planning, coordinating and executing familiarization visits between partnering countries.

"The application process was pretty tight," Williams said. "The position was only offered to majors and captains promotable to major." Through New York State and the Department of Military and Naval Affairs, he was selected from 10 finalists, who interviewed for the position.

Williams was picked for the job, because of his experience and skills, said Lt. Col. Joseph Sullivan, the New York Army National Guard officer responsible for New York's program.

Williams has been working within the partnership program at the 106th Rescue Wing for the past several years.

Two years ago, he arranged for 106th para-rescuemen to visit South Africa to train a South African military unit to set up a dive team and perform rescue dives. Also last summer, he helped arrange for a South African rescue team to train here with 106th para-rescuemen.

Williams also hosted Uruguayan visitors from the Connecticut Air National Guard's SPP to come here to the 106th and learn about combat search and rescue. He gave the partnering nation's team a briefing on CSAR and a tour of the base here.

Col. Thomas J. Owens II, the 106th Rescue Wing Commander, was a big help and is very supportive in what this does for the Wing, Williams said. It provides more opportunities for 106th Rescue Wing members to participate in the partnering nation's military to military events.

The BAO's job is to serve as the focal point for joint military exercises between the Republic of South Africa and the New York National Guard.

In conjunction with the state command structure and the partnering nation's military leadership, Williams will develop scenarios for deployment of New York National Guard soldiers and airmen to South Africa to meet the approved security assistance activities evaluated through the US Embassy and USAFRICOM staff.

These types of activities require a tremendous amount of coordination because of the number of entities involved and the delicate balance that must be maintained. In planning and executing National Guard Participation in foreign military exercises, the coordinator must take a myriad of considerations into account, Williams said.

The coordination process involves the State Department, Department of Defense, AFRICOM, New York State Partnership Program Coordinators, the various service secretariats, embassy staff members, the National Guard Bureau and South African military counterparts, he said.

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