New Hampshire National Guard welcomes Cape Verdean Prime Minister to Concord

By JAMIE L. COSTA

Monitor staff

Published: 09-26-2023 5:37 PM

A motorcade of black SUVs and police escort vehicles piled into the New Hampshire National Guard’s Army aviation flight facility on Monday carrying Jose Ulisses Correia e Silva, the prime minister of Cabo Verde, who had an eye for military aircraft.

As part of an international partnership forged between the African nation and the state of New Hampshire in 2021, the prime minister, the minister of defense and several ambassadors traveled to the United States to learn about military vehicles and operations as the country begins to develop its military operations. On their visit, they had several meetings in Washington D.C., where they met with President Joe Biden, and spent Sunday in Boston meeting with Consulate Octavio Gomes.

“The benefits of these partnerships is to exchange ideas, information and techniques and for our guardsmen to learn just as much as our partners,” explained Lt. Col. Greg Heilshorn, the public information officer for the New Hampshire National Guard. “Being exposed to Cabo Verde, they’re picking up tips and techniques and things that are unique to both of our countries that we can apply back here.”

When Correia e Silva arrived at the aviation flight facility, he was first given a tour of the hangar where military vehicles like the Black Hawk helicopter and the Beechcraft C-12 Huron airplane were located. He then took flight in the Black Hawk over Lake Winnepesauke, up to the White Mountains and back around Concord and the State House before meeting with Major General David Mikolaities to discuss the details of the partnership thus far and the future of the country’s collaborations.

The main areas of focus for the country are on aviation, maintenance and logistics, Correia e Silva explained. With the help of the New Hampshire National Guard, they will be able to purchase military aircraft like helicopters and airplanes, learn how to maintain and fix the military vehicles and train their soldiers on search and rescue missions and intercoastal drug trafficking interference.

“This is a huge win and at the lowest level. Service members will be able to meet with different soldiers from different countries and work with other allies that have a small maritime domain, common shared interests, a tourism-based economy and transnational drug crime,” Mikolaities explained. “This is an excellent opportunity for our countries to work together.”

Mikolaities added that because both Cabo Verde and New Hampshire are small, seafaring territories with geographical similarities, they both have a lot to offer each other and can work together to combat international drug trafficking, search and rescue missions and coastal emergencies.

“This is a strategic and important partnership in achieving our mission goals,” said Cape Verdean Minister of Defense Janine Lelis. “We want to learn more about the equipment we have and learn the systems. We have been asking for support regarding aviation for a long time and we didn’t get it so this is a major thing for us and it gives us a lot of confidence in this partnership.”

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Over the next year, and the last three years of the partnership, guardsmen from the New Hampshire National Guard and Cabo Verde will travel between territories for monthly training on aviation, cyber security, vehicle maintenance, medicine, humanitarian work and gender-based violence. 

The partnership was formally signed into effect in February of 2022 by Gov. Chris Sununu while in Cabo Verde. The state of New Hampshire entered an earlier partnership with El Salvador back in the year 2000.

“As we have done with our Salvadoran friends, we hope to grow our partnership with Cabo Verde from military exchanges to a whole-of-society approach involving our government and civilian sectors,” Mikolaities said. “Beyond the shared benefits of Cabo Verde and New Hampshire, we have an opportunity to play a strategic role in helping to maintain stability in the region.”

Cabo Verde is home to over half a million people who live in 10 volcanic islands nearly 300 miles off the coast of Senegal in Africa. It was first settled in the 15th century by Portuguese traders but gained its independence in 1975 and established a democracy in the 1990s. Since the 17th century, Cabo Verdean immigrants have moved to New England to partake in the fishing and whaling trades, most prominently in New Bedford, Gloucester and Cape Cod.

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