August 22, 2014

Guard to expand role in Panama (AUDIO)

The National Guard is working with Senator McCaskill’s office in changing a law that would allow civilians to fly with the guard.

General Danner welcomes home the final members of ADT 6 as they return from Afghanistan. He talks about how as the ADT mission comes to a close, the guard’s role will expand in Panama.

National Guard Adjutant General Steven Danner says every state has a partnership with another country. Missouri’s partner country is Panama. He says with the state’s Agri-business Development Teams finishing their mission in Afghanistan, more resources are available to bolster other guard projects.

Danner says Missouri has been working in Panama since the 1980s to assist in building roads and bridges, and heading up humanitarian projects providing aid to hospitals, installing water purification systems and the like.

He says the guard works with Panama’s military and civilians, and also sets up civilian to civilian partnerships, such as with Rotary Clubs and Chambers of Commerce.

Now, he hopes with some Congressional action, he can include even more civilians. Laws must be changed that would allow civilians to ride on Army planes, so that when the guard took supplies and civilian soldiers to Panama, select volunteers could also travel with them, aiding to distribute supplies.

For instance, he says, Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City has warehoused expired medical supplies that cannot be used in the United States because of FDA regulations. However, he says, for items like cotton swabs or other supplies, they’re perfectly fine and can be used at the Children’s Hospital in Panama City. That’s where, he says, volunteers can play a vital role in distribution.

Danner says if that program could be expanded to include more civilians, it would promote partnerships for peace, and prevent wars like the one we’re fighting in Afghanistan.

AUDIO: Jessica Machetta reports (1:25)