On Thursday, June 16, 2016, Lt. Col. Timothy Brock was awarded the Medal of Honorary Recognition by the Latvian Minister of Defense. The medal is the highest award that can be given by the MoD. Brock has been the bilateral affairs officer at the U.S. Embassy in Latvia since 2014.
The bilateral affairs officer is a position that serves as a conduit between the Michigan National Guard and the country of Latvia. Michigan and Latvia have been partners through the National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program for more than 24 years. Brock is finishing his two-year tour as the BAO and is proud of the many successes that have occurred between Latvia and Michigan during his tenure.
“Watching the success of all the teams I have brought over here has been the most enjoyable part of this job,” said Brock. “All of the milestones we’ve achieved: the RPAs [remotely piloted aircraft], and the A-10 fighters. Last year was the first time fighters have landed in the country and this year was the first time they have actually deployed to the country to take place in an exercise.”
The NGB-administered State Partnership Program aids in facilitating a long-term relationship with a state’s partner country that otherwise wouldn’t exist. Today, 70 state partnerships involving 76 countries around the globe have built durable relationships among NATO allies.
“The state partnership lends itself to a program that is going to be here for a long enduring timeframe. We understand where the problems are because we’ve been here and we’ve been their friends. We know how to work through the problems and solve them. They know how to talk to us because we’ve built a relationship and we can work through those things,” said Brock.
The BAO is integral to the success of the program and maintains the continuity of operations between the two partners.
Lt. Col. Timothy S. Brock is awarded the Medal of Honorary Recognition by the Latvian Minister of Defense, Raimond Bergmanis, June 16, 2016, Riga, Latvia. Brock served as chief coordinator between the Michigan National Guard and the National Armed Forces of the Republic of Latvia since 2014. (Michigan National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Helen Miller/Released)
“Without the BAO to help facilitate bringing in the Michigan guys, finding out where the Latvian guys need the assistance, helping them build to a more capable military fighting force, a lot of these things wouldn’t be done,” stated Brock.
Though the active duty Army is currently rotating units through the country, they won’t have the same everlasting relationship with Latvia like the Michigan National Guard will.
“The active duty Army may bring capability to Latvia, but the state partnerships make Latvia capable and that’s the biggest difference,” said Brock.