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Story by Capt. Michael Reinersman, 138th Field Artillery Brigade
FRANKFORT, Ky, - The Kentucky National Guard intends to maintain close contact with Djibouti and Ecuador to build upon their strategic relationship during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
our partners in the State Partnership Program (SPP) have been fighting the same
virus. This has truly been a global pandemic.
job of maintaining those relationships falls in part to the Bilateral Affairs
Officer (BAO). For the Kentucky National Guard, that critical, international
position is held by Maj. Jonathan Holliday.
is assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti, Africa as the BAO. Holliday replaced
Maj. Christopher Hettinger after his two-year assignment as BAO ended in August
Government of Djibouti acted rapidly and decisively to try to stop the influx
of people who may be infected with the virus.” said Holliday. “Their first
reaction was to ban all travel into and out of the country.”
15, 2020, the Government of Djibouti announced the closure of all land, sea,
and air borders effective March 18, 2020. The Government has been accommodating
of requests to get those Americans out who may be at high risk or for other
“We determined that flying on a crowded plane
was much more of a risk than self-quarantining in our house.” said Holliday. “I also have a mission that would be complicated
Embassy has followed the direction of the government by restricting work to
essential personnel. Holliday and his
wife, Jessica and three children, have been working during home confinement at
their residence in Djibouti City.
biggest concern was access to food, but it hasn't been an issue yet,” said
Holliday. “Djibouti has many large supermarkets, and they have remained open
and stocked. US Embassy has reduced hours for
the already limited commissary, and Amazon deliveries have almost ceased. As Americans, these now restricted sources
are where we get name brand foods that are more familiar to us, but we get
meats, fruits, and vegetables from the local economy.”
to Holliday, Djibouti’s state-owned telecommunications company suspended
payment for internet and phone service during the lockdown. So, essentially,
internet and phone service is free until the home confinement order is lifted.
Very early in the epidemic, Holliday attended meetings at the Djibouti Ministry of Health.
Djibouti’s population is under one million, with 70 percent of the population living in the capital, the government considers the virus a dire threat. The Djiboutian military health officers are leading the response to COVID-19.
“The pandemic is still in the active and community phase.” said Dr. Saleh Banoita Tourab, Ministry of Health Secretary, during a press briefing on the COVID-19 Situation April 19, 2020. The measures capable of bending the ascension curve of the disease remain.
Many of the strategies to
prevent the spread of the deadly virus have mimicked what many other countries
around the world have done, from closing schools, home confinement, social
distancing, frequent hand washing, closing non-essential businesses to
suggesting the use of masks and canceling public social activities.
In addition to COVID-19, heavy
rains triggered widespread flash floods across Djibouti April 21. Holliday also
serves as the overseas Humanitarian Disaster, Assistance, and Civic Aid
(OHDACA) Program Manager for the Office of Security Cooperation.
Holliday foresees the next small engagement with Kentucky National Guard and possibly the Kentucky Department of Public Health to exchange best practices with Djiboutian military health officers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
1996, Ecuador is the Kentucky National Guard’s other SPP partner.
State Partnership Program has been successfully building relationships for over
25 years and now includes 78 partnerships with 84 nations around the globe. SPP
links a unique component of the Department of Defense – a state's National
Guard – with the armed forces or equivalent of a partner country in a
cooperative, mutually beneficial relationship.