Massachusetts senior National Guard chaplain visits CJTF-HOA, Kenya

Kenya Navy Service Warrant Officer (Rev.) John Mutia Syanda, right, a senior chaplain at Kenya Navy Compound Manda Bay, gives a tour of his chapel to visiting chaplains April 26, 2019. Massachusetts National Guard chaplains visited Kenya as part of the State Partnership Program, which is a National Guard program that is a force multiplier aimed to build partnerships on many levels of assistance such as training, legal, logistics, religious affairs, medial and many other fields in military operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Shawn Nickel) Massachusetts senior National Guard chaplain visits CJTF-HOA, Kenya Kenya Navy Service Warrant Officer (Rev.) John Mutia Syanda, right, a senior chaplain at Kenya Navy Compound Manda Bay, gives a tour of his chapel to visiting chaplains April 26, 2019. Massachusetts National Guard chaplains visited Kenya as part of the State Partnership Program, which is a National Guard program that is a force multiplier aimed to build partnerships on many levels of assistance such as training, legal, logistics, religious affairs, medial and many other fields in military operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Shawn Nickel)
U.S. Army Col. Paul Minor, chaplain with the Massachusetts National Guard, speaks to U.S. Soldiers from the Massachusetts National Guard deployed to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), during a battlefield circulation at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, April 25, 2019. Minor met with more than 80 Massachusetts National Guard Soldiers assigned to, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 181st Infantry Regiment, mobilized to support Task Force Warrior, prior to visiting Kenya, which is Massachusetts' assigned country under the Department of Defense National Guard State Partnership Program. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Kirsten Brandes) Massachusetts senior National Guard chaplain visits CJTF-HOA, Kenya U.S. Army Col. Paul Minor, chaplain with the Massachusetts National Guard, speaks to U.S. Soldiers from the Massachusetts National Guard deployed to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), during a battlefield circulation at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, April 25, 2019. Minor met with more than 80 Massachusetts National Guard Soldiers assigned to, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 181st Infantry Regiment, mobilized to support Task Force Warrior, prior to visiting Kenya, which is Massachusetts' assigned country under the Department of Defense National Guard State Partnership Program. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Kirsten Brandes)
U.S. Army Col. Paul Minor, the senior chaplain assigned to the Massachusetts National Guard, shakes hands with Kenya Navy Service Warrant Officer (Rev.) John Mutia Syanda, a senior chaplain at Kenya Navy Compound Manda Bay, while visiting Kenya April 26, 2019. Minor visited Soldiers deployed to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa and visited Kenya, which is Massachusetts’ assigned country under the State Partnership Program, April 25-28, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Shawn Nickel) Massachusetts senior National Guard chaplain visits CJTF-HOA, Kenya U.S. Army Col. Paul Minor, the senior chaplain assigned to the Massachusetts National Guard, shakes hands with Kenya Navy Service Warrant Officer (Rev.) John Mutia Syanda, a senior chaplain at Kenya Navy Compound Manda Bay, while visiting Kenya April 26, 2019. Minor visited Soldiers deployed to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa and visited Kenya, which is Massachusetts’ assigned country under the State Partnership Program, April 25-28, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Shawn Nickel)
U.S. Army Col. Paul Minor, chaplain with the Massachusetts National Guard, speaks to U.S. Soldiers from the Massachusetts National Guard deployed to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), during a battlefield circulation at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, April 25, 2019. Minor met with more than 80 Massachusetts National Guard Soldiers assigned to, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 181st Infantry Regiment, mobilized to support Task Force Warrior, prior to visiting Kenya, which is Massachusetts' assigned country under the Department of Defense National Guard State Partnership Program. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Kirsten Brandes) Massachusetts senior National Guard chaplain visits CJTF-HOA, Kenya U.S. Army Col. Paul Minor, chaplain with the Massachusetts National Guard, speaks to U.S. Soldiers from the Massachusetts National Guard deployed to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), during a battlefield circulation at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, April 25, 2019. Minor met with more than 80 Massachusetts National Guard Soldiers assigned to, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 181st Infantry Regiment, mobilized to support Task Force Warrior, prior to visiting Kenya, which is Massachusetts' assigned country under the Department of Defense National Guard State Partnership Program. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Kirsten Brandes)
U.S. Army Col. Paul Minor, the senior chaplain assigned to the Massachusetts National Guard, talks with Kenya Navy Service Warrant Officer (Rev.) John Mutia Syanda, a senior chaplain at Kenya Navy Compound Manda Bay, while visiting Kenya April 26, 2019. The senior chaplain visited Soldiers deployed to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa and visited Kenya, which is Massachusetts’ assigned country under the State Partnership Program, April 25-28, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Shawn Nickel) Massachusetts senior National Guard chaplain visits CJTF-HOA, Kenya U.S. Army Col. Paul Minor, the senior chaplain assigned to the Massachusetts National Guard, talks with Kenya Navy Service Warrant Officer (Rev.) John Mutia Syanda, a senior chaplain at Kenya Navy Compound Manda Bay, while visiting Kenya April 26, 2019. The senior chaplain visited Soldiers deployed to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa and visited Kenya, which is Massachusetts’ assigned country under the State Partnership Program, April 25-28, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Shawn Nickel)
Religious Affairs staff assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, Massachusetts National Guard chaplains, and Kenya navy and army chaplains pose for a photo at Kenya Navy Compound Manda Bay, April 26, 2019. The chaplains visited Kenya as part of the State Partnership Program, which is a National Guard program that is a force multiplier aimed to build partnerships on many levels of assistance such as training, legal, logistics, religious affairs, medial and many other fields in military operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Shawn Nickel) Massachusetts senior National Guard chaplain visits CJTF-HOA, Kenya Religious Affairs staff assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, Massachusetts National Guard chaplains, and Kenya navy and army chaplains pose for a photo at Kenya Navy Compound Manda Bay, April 26, 2019. The chaplains visited Kenya as part of the State Partnership Program, which is a National Guard program that is a force multiplier aimed to build partnerships on many levels of assistance such as training, legal, logistics, religious affairs, medial and many other fields in military operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Shawn Nickel)
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Luis Alvarez, a Massachusetts National Guard chaplain candidate, shakes hands with Kenya Navy Service Warrant Officer (Rev.) John Mutia Syanda, a senior chaplain at Kenya Navy Compound Manda Bay, while visiting Kenya April 26, 2019. Alvarez and U.S. Army Col. Paul Minor, the senior chaplain assigned to the Massachusetts National Guard, visited Soldiers deployed to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa and visited Kenya, which is Massachusetts’ assigned country under the State Partnership Program, April 25-28, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Shawn Nickel) Massachusetts senior National Guard chaplain visits CJTF-HOA, Kenya U.S. Army 1st Lt. Luis Alvarez, a Massachusetts National Guard chaplain candidate, shakes hands with Kenya Navy Service Warrant Officer (Rev.) John Mutia Syanda, a senior chaplain at Kenya Navy Compound Manda Bay, while visiting Kenya April 26, 2019. Alvarez and U.S. Army Col. Paul Minor, the senior chaplain assigned to the Massachusetts National Guard, visited Soldiers deployed to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa and visited Kenya, which is Massachusetts’ assigned country under the State Partnership Program, April 25-28, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Shawn Nickel)
Religious Affairs staff assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, Massachusetts National Guard chaplains, and Kenya navy and army chaplains meet at Kenya Navy Compound Manda Bay, April 26, 2019. The chaplains visited Kenya as part of the State Partnership Program, which is a National Guard program that is a force multiplier aimed to build partnerships on many levels of assistance such as training, legal, logistics, religious affairs, medial and many other fields in military operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Shawn Nickel) Massachusetts senior National Guard chaplain visits CJTF-HOA, Kenya Religious Affairs staff assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, Massachusetts National Guard chaplains, and Kenya navy and army chaplains meet at Kenya Navy Compound Manda Bay, April 26, 2019. The chaplains visited Kenya as part of the State Partnership Program, which is a National Guard program that is a force multiplier aimed to build partnerships on many levels of assistance such as training, legal, logistics, religious affairs, medial and many other fields in military operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Shawn Nickel)
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Luis Alvarez, chaplain candidate with the Massachusetts National Guard, kicks a soccer ball with children at Caritas in Djibouti City, Djibouti, while visiting Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), April 25, 2019. Caritas is a day center that provides care to nearly 100 children a day and enables CJTF-HOA members with a unique opportunity to interact with the local community through cultural exchanges in Djibouti City. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Franklin R. Ramos) Massachusetts senior National Guard chaplain visits CJTF-HOA, Kenya U.S. Army 1st Lt. Luis Alvarez, chaplain candidate with the Massachusetts National Guard, kicks a soccer ball with children at Caritas in Djibouti City, Djibouti, while visiting Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), April 25, 2019. Caritas is a day center that provides care to nearly 100 children a day and enables CJTF-HOA members with a unique opportunity to interact with the local community through cultural exchanges in Djibouti City. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Franklin R. Ramos)
U.S. Army Col. Paul Minor, chaplain with the Massachusetts National Guard, talks with a child at Caritas in Djibouti City, Djibouti, while visiting Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), April 25, 2019. CJTF-HOA enhances partner capabilities by providing bi-weekly assistance to Caritas, which is an international organization that was started in 1897 by the Catholic Church to provide relief to the world. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Franklin R. Ramos) Massachusetts senior National Guard chaplain visits CJTF-HOA, Kenya U.S. Army Col. Paul Minor, chaplain with the Massachusetts National Guard, talks with a child at Caritas in Djibouti City, Djibouti, while visiting Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), April 25, 2019. CJTF-HOA enhances partner capabilities by providing bi-weekly assistance to Caritas, which is an international organization that was started in 1897 by the Catholic Church to provide relief to the world. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Franklin R. Ramos)
U.S. Army Col. Paul Minor, chaplain with the Massachusetts National Guard, plays a card matching game with children at Caritas in Djibouti City, Djibouti, while visiting Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), April 25, 2019. CJTF-HOA enhances partner capabilities by providing bi-weekly assistance to Caritas, which is an international organization that was started in 1897 by the Catholic Church to provide relief to the world. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Franklin R. Ramos) Massachusetts senior National Guard chaplain visits CJTF-HOA, Kenya U.S. Army Col. Paul Minor, chaplain with the Massachusetts National Guard, plays a card matching game with children at Caritas in Djibouti City, Djibouti, while visiting Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), April 25, 2019. CJTF-HOA enhances partner capabilities by providing bi-weekly assistance to Caritas, which is an international organization that was started in 1897 by the Catholic Church to provide relief to the world. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Franklin R. Ramos)
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Luis Alvarez, chaplain candidate with the Massachusetts National Guard, speaks with children at Caritas in Djibouti City, Djibouti, while visiting Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), April 25, 2019. Caritas is a day center that provides care to nearly 100 children a day and enables CJTF-HOA members with a unique opportunity to interact with the local community through cultural exchanges in Djibouti City. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Franklin R. Ramos) Massachusetts senior National Guard chaplain visits CJTF-HOA, Kenya U.S. Army 1st Lt. Luis Alvarez, chaplain candidate with the Massachusetts National Guard, speaks with children at Caritas in Djibouti City, Djibouti, while visiting Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), April 25, 2019. Caritas is a day center that provides care to nearly 100 children a day and enables CJTF-HOA members with a unique opportunity to interact with the local community through cultural exchanges in Djibouti City. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Franklin R. Ramos)

The senior chaplain assigned to the Massachusetts National Guard visited Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa and Kenya April 25-28, highlighting one of the National Guard’s lesser-known missions, building enduring partnerships through its State Partnership Program.

U.S. Army Col. Paul Minor met with his Soldiers deployed to CJTF HOA and visited Kenya, which is Massachusetts’ assigned country under the State Partnership Program. U.S. forces are in Kenya at the invitation of the Kenyan government. They operate in a close partnership with and hosted by Kenyan military facilities.

“We are here to share and learn best practices with our religious partners,” said Minor. “We aren’t here to presume we have things to teach, but rather things we can learn and ideas we can exchange.”

The SPP is a force multiplier that has helped build cooperative, mutually-beneficial relationships with 75 partnerships in 81 nations around the globe by leveraging whole-of-society relationships and capabilities to facilitate broader interagency engagements spanning military, government, economic and social spheres.

Kenya is one of thirteen countries paired with National Guard units in the U.S., and while this is the first religious affairs exchange in Kenya, Minor stressed that he has worked with other states and their religious partnership programs and has been impressed with the success; so he is confident he can develop relationships with his Kenyan counterparts.

“We are not just here to meet,” said Minor. “We are here to build connections, so there isn’t just an email or phone call to discuss skills and ideas. Anytime you can expand your network of support, you are gaining something to improve your ability to support other people.”

One of the engagements Minor said he was excited for was exchanging gifts with the Kenya Defense Force chaplains, especial the Chaplain Corps (ARNG) Handbook, because the cover of has the symbols of several religions.

“It’s all about diversity and inclusion,” Minor said. “We are supporting fighting forces that are derived of many backgrounds, and we can never stop learning how to support our troops better.”

In addition to the benefits of visiting Kenya, Minor and a Massachusetts National Guard chaplain candidate, U.S. Army 1st Lt. Luis Alvarez, visited with more than 80 CJTF-HOA Massachusetts National Guard Soldiers attached to Task Force Warrior, during a battlefield circulation at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti.

“It’s great being able to see our Soldiers over here, so they know our governor and state support them,” said Alvarez, who was an 11-year enlisted Soldier before applying to join the Chaplain Corps. “It can be a tough situation being deployed far away from family, and if we can just be here in person to say ‘Thank you,’ hear their concerns and see what we can do for them, they may feel just a little more appreciated. I know it would mean a great deal to me.”

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