New VTNG adjutant general moves Macedonia partnership forward
Maj. Gen. Steven Cray, the adjutant general, Vermont National Guard, met with senior military, civilian, and government leaders in Macedonia the week of Sept. 12.
U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Steven Cray, the adjutant general of the Vermont National Guard, U.S. Ambassador Paul Wholers, and U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Forrest Glodgett pass out medals and accolades to 79 soldiers from the army of the Republic of Macedonia at Illenden Barracks, Skopje, Macedonia, Sept. 12, 2013. The soldiers were honored for their service with the 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in 2010.
4 photos: Soldiers from the army of the Republic of Macedonia honored for service with 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team
Photo 1 of 4: U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Steven Cray, the adjutant general of the Vermont National Guard, U.S. Ambassador Paul Wholers, and U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Forrest Glodgett pass out medals and accolades to 79 soldiers from the army of the Republic of Macedonia at Illenden Barracks, Skopje, Macedonia, Sept. 12, 2013. The soldiers were honored for their service with the 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in 2010. Download full-resolution version
Maj. Gen. Steven Cray, the adjutant general of the Vermont National Guard, U.S. Ambassador Paul Wholers, Lt. Col Dan Pipes, State Partnership director - VTNG, and Col. Zoran Sekulovski meet with Lt. Gen. Goranco Koteski, the chief of defense of Macedonia, to discuss the future of the State Partnership Program on Sept. 11, 2013, in Skopje, Macedonia.
4 photos: Members of the Vermont National Guard traveled to Macedonia to meet with top Macedonian leaders to discuss the future of the State Partnership Program
Photo 2 of 4: Maj. Gen. Steven Cray, the adjutant general of the Vermont National Guard, U.S. Ambassador Paul Wholers, Lt. Col Dan Pipes, State Partnership director - VTNG, and Col. Zoran Sekulovski meet with Lt. Gen. Goranco Koteski, the chief of defense of Macedonia, to discuss the future of the State Partnership Program on Sept. 11, 2013, in Skopje, Macedonia. Download full-resolution version
U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Steven Cray, the adjutant general of the Vermont National Guard, pins a medal on one of 79 soldiers from the army of the Republic of Macedonia at Illenden Barracks, Skopje, Macedonia, Sept. 12, 2013. The soldiers were honored for their service with the 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in 2010.
4 photos: Soldiers from the army of the Republic of Macedonia honored for service with 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team
Photo 3 of 4: U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Steven Cray, the adjutant general of the Vermont National Guard, pins a medal on one of 79 soldiers from the army of the Republic of Macedonia at Illenden Barracks, Skopje, Macedonia, Sept. 12, 2013. The soldiers were honored for their service with the 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in 2010. Download full-resolution version
U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Steven Cray, the adjutant general of the Vermont National Guard, and U.S. Ambassador Paul Wholers meet with Talat Xhaferi, the Macedonian minister of defense, to discuss the possibility of engaging with Vermont and Senegal in tri-lateral events in Skopje, Macedonia, Sept. 12, 2013. Members of the Vermont National Guard traveled to Macedonia to meet with top Macedonian leaders to discuss the future of the State Partnership Program.
4 photos: Members of the Vermont National Guard traveled to Macedonia to meet with top Macedonian leaders to discuss the future of the State Partnership Program
Photo 4 of 4: U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Steven Cray, the adjutant general of the Vermont National Guard, and U.S. Ambassador Paul Wholers meet with Talat Xhaferi, the Macedonian minister of defense, to discuss the possibility of engaging with Vermont and Senegal in tri-lateral events in Skopje, Macedonia, Sept. 12, 2013. Members of the Vermont National Guard traveled to Macedonia to meet with top Macedonian leaders to discuss the future of the State Partnership Program. Download full-resolution version
U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Steven Cray, the adjutant general of the Vermont National Guard, U.S. Ambassador Paul Wholers, and U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Forrest Glodgett pass out medals and accolades to 79 soldiers from the army of the Republic of Macedonia at Illenden Barracks, Skopje, Macedonia, Sept. 12, 2013. The soldiers were honored for their service with the 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in 2010.
Maj. Gen. Steven Cray, the adjutant general of the Vermont National Guard, U.S. Ambassador Paul Wholers, Lt. Col Dan Pipes, State Partnership director - VTNG, and Col. Zoran Sekulovski meet with Lt. Gen. Goranco Koteski, the chief of defense of Macedonia, to discuss the future of the State Partnership Program on Sept. 11, 2013, in Skopje, Macedonia.
U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Steven Cray, the adjutant general of the Vermont National Guard, pins a medal on one of 79 soldiers from the army of the Republic of Macedonia at Illenden Barracks, Skopje, Macedonia, Sept. 12, 2013. The soldiers were honored for their service with the 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in 2010.
U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Steven Cray, the adjutant general of the Vermont National Guard, and U.S. Ambassador Paul Wholers meet with Talat Xhaferi, the Macedonian minister of defense, to discuss the possibility of engaging with Vermont and Senegal in tri-lateral events in Skopje, Macedonia, Sept. 12, 2013. Members of the Vermont National Guard traveled to Macedonia to meet with top Macedonian leaders to discuss the future of the State Partnership Program.

SKOPJE, Macedonia – Maj. Gen. Steven Cray, the adjutant general, Vermont National Guard, met with senior military, civilian, and government leaders in Macedonia the week of Sept. 12.

This was his first visit as adjutant general. During this intensive visit, Cray discussed strategic initiatives of the State Partnership Program.

The Macedonian-Vermont State Partnership connection goes back more than 21 years.

More than 3,000 Macedonians and Vermonters have shared their expertise in more than 800 events as the partnership has developed.

“Vermont has a special bond with Macedonians. Your soldiers are recognized and trusted as professionals who provide continuity throughout their careers,” U.S. Ambassador Paul Wholers stated of the relationship.

Prior to flying to Macedonia, Cray, Command Sgt. Maj. Forest Glodgett, and Lt. Col. Dan Pipes, State Partnership director, met with senior leaders at EUCOM in Stuttgart, Germany. As the combatant command for the region, EUCOM recognizes the value of state partnership engagements.

“We coordinate our lines of effort with EUCOM, the country team, the major commands in Vermont and our Macedonian partners,” says Pipes. “This ensures that we are working together with meaningful results.”

Once in Macedonia, discussions revolved around several recurring themes: regional interoperability, domestic response preparedness, and working with all facets of government were threads woven through most conversations. Cray has a vision of incorporating these mutual interests in engagements with Senegal, Vermont’s other partner nation.

“A tri-lateral event to determine how Senegal and Macedonia will work together has many intriguing possibilities,” noted Cray.

In a day that illustrates the aggressive schedule of the week, Cray and Wohlers met with Talat Xhaferi, the minister of defense, Lt. Gen. Gorancho Koteski, the chief of defense, and finally with Gjorgje Ivanov, the president of Macedonia. All leaders noted their excitement regarding the possibility of engaging with peers in West Africa.

Later that same day, Cray and Glodgett joined Koteski, at Illenden Barracks in Skopje to award two medals to each of the 79 Macedonian soldiers who co-deployed with Vermont’s 86th IBCT to Afghanistan in 2010.

Glodgett planned and participated in this ceremony with his Macedonian counterparts, noting that, “These soldiers earned the Meritorious Unit Citation and Vermont Commendation medals. I am proud to have served with them in Afghanistan.”

During the ceremony, Cray commented that, “We share a deep bond of mutual respect that has grown from our experience in combat, but we also know each other’s families. The personal nature of our relationship is only built over time.”

The day concluded with a gathering of senior military, embassy, and political personnel at the ambassador’s residence.

Cray’s commitment to continued professional and personal exchanges in the State Partnership Program was clearly demonstrated each day of this trip through strategic engagement blended with an affirmation of Macedonian soldiers' abilities.

Vermont’s senior leaders are committed to strategic cooperation and international engagement that will take the partnership to new levels in the future.

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