National Guard values Muslim tradition, builds relationships year-round with SPP

Written by  //  September 8, 2011  //  Feature Stories

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Leisa Grant and Army Sgt. Darron Salzer
National Guard Bureau

ARLINGTON, Va. (Sept. 8, 2011) – Ramadan, the Muslim religion’s holy month, ended Aug. 30; however, the National Guard will continue to foster relationships with Muslim and Muslim-majority nations through the State Partnership Program year-round.

Air Force Gen. Craig McKinley (center-front), chief of the National Guard Bureau, stands with leaders and distinguished guests of the Muslim and National Guard communities for a photo before hosting the second-annual National Guard Iftar Dinner Aug. 8, 2011, in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Darron Salzer)(Released)

Air Force Gen. Craig McKinley, chief of the National Guard Bureau, hosted an Iftar dinner Aug. 8, which brought together ambassadors and diplomats from 15 partnered Muslim nations. The dinner, a tradition, is the meal that takes place after sunset when Muslims break their fast during Ramadan.

For the second year hosting an Iftar dinner, McKinley commented on the relationships the National Guard has developed with its Muslim partners through the State Partnership Program.

These ongoing relationships have enhanced geographic combatant commanders’ abilities to build enduring military to military relationships, thus improving long-term international security while building partnerships across all levels of society, McKinley said.

Adding, the State Partnership Program is the “crown jewel” of the National Guard.

While National Guard members are well known for serving in their communities across America in time of need, their diversity of missions’ reach well beyond our borders and into countries such as Jordan, Kazakhstan, and Indonesia.

With several senior Muslim and National Guard leaders in attendance for the dinner, Imam Mohamed Magid, the executive director of the All Dulles area Muslim Society Center, spoke to the benefits the State Partnership Program offers to the National Guard and its Muslim partners.

“We have Muslims, people of other faith and ethnicities and cultural backgrounds serving side-by-side,” Magid said.

God created the world with diversity, he said. “We have people of different races, different color and cultural backgrounds. As I look at the National Guard, I see there is diversity in it.”

Magid said the common values of service, loving your neighbors and caring about those who are in need are “values that [the Muslim community and the National Guard] have in common.”

While the National Guard is serving in various roles overseas and in the homeland, McKinley said the Guard would continue to strengthen bonds already formed with Muslim SPP nations based on mutual interests and respect.