Michigan National Guardsman Master Sgt. Santos Feliciano and Latvian National Armed Force 1st Sgt. Marteen Kupcs pose with workers from a rubber plantation in Liberia, Jan. 16, 2013. Michigan and Latvia are partners in the Department of State and DoD State Partnership Program and Liberia is Michigan's newest partner. The soldiers were there to assist with noncommissioned military officer development and other core military discipline and civil defense initiatives. While driving from one site to another, the soldiers spotted the workers and pulled their vehicle over to talk to them. Establishing relationships with the local community is a key factor in assisting partner countries, especially a country such as Liberia that is recovering from years of civil war.
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