Adj. Gen. talks of Armenia trip

Topeka Capital Journal
Aug 1 2009

Adj. Gen. talks of Armenia trip

By Jan Biles
Created July 31, 2009 at 1:23pm

The Kansas adjutant general said Friday a trip he and other officials
took last week to the Republic of Armenia cemented the three-year
partnership the Kansas National Guard has with the former Soviet Union

The focus of the trip was to foster growth in the areas of
biosecurity, agriculture development, education and law enforcement.

"The partnership has really matured," Maj. Gen. Tod Bunting said
during a news conference in Topeka. "It’s an evolving partnership."

Kansas and Armenia were linked in 2003 through the National Guard
Bureau’s State Partnership Program. Since then, the Guard has worked
closely with Armenia’s Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Health, Rescue
Service, and other governmental offices and agencies.

Armenia, an independent nation with a land mass smaller than Maryland,
neighbors Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia.

Among the officials going on the trip were retired Lt. Col. Craig
Beardsley, program administrator for the National Agricultural
Biosecurity Center at Kansas State University, and Blake Flanders,
vice president of work force development for the Kansas Board of

Beardsley said he talked with Armenian agricultural officials about
how they respond to and manage foreign animal diseases and shared how
the United States plans and trains for outbreaks.

The United States attempts to stop the spread of disease by destroying
infected animals, he said. Armenia slaughters the animals and uses
them for food or to make other products.

"Some of the diseases not in the United States are in that country,"
he said, listing foot-and-mouth disease as an example. "It was an
opportunity to visit with agricultural folks that actually manage (the
diseases) and get their insight into diseases we don’t deal with on a
weekly or daily basis."

Flanders said his focus was on assessing where improvements could be
made in the Armenian educational system, including how it could be
leveraged to support economic development. As an example, he explained
a regents’ program involving a combined effort by universities,
technical colleges and community colleges to increase the number of
registered nurses in the state.

In turn, Armenian officials looked at different aspects of the
educational system in Kansas, such as the funding approach for
technical colleges.

Bunting also said members of the 190th Air Refueling Wing, of the
Kansas Air National Guard, are in Armenia building a
climate-controlled warehouse, which will be used to store medical
equipment and supplies.

Sharon Watson, director of public affairs for the adjutant general’s
office, said 37 civil engineers from the 190th Air Refueling Wing —
known as the Kansas Coyotes — are helping to build the warehouse.

Also going on the trip were Martha Vanier, associate director of the
National Agriculture Biosecurity Center at K-State, who joined
Beardsley is talking with Armenian agencies about a biosecurity
threat-reduction plan; Fred Cholick, dean of K-State’s College of
Agriculture and director of Kansas State University Research and
Extension, who helped identify opportunities for K-State/Armenia
initiatives focusing on agricultural development; and Maj. James
Brown, operations officer for the Kansas City, Kan., Police
Department, who discussed strategies with the Bureau of International
Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs and Armenian police officials.