Rwanda Defence Force and the Nebraska National Guard on Thursday signed a Defense Department’s State Partnership Program (SPP) in Kigali, on Thursday.
Air Force Maj. Gen. Daryl L. Bohac, Nebraska National Guard Adjutant General, said that they wanted to be partners with Rwanda because there are areas of mutual interest in the partnership.
Bohac pointed to RDF's vast experience in international peacekeeping operations as a major factor.
"Your skills, your depth and talents in this arena is very important for us," he said.
UN figures from April this year indicate that Rwanda was the second largest UN troop-contributing country in the world, with 6,546 military and police personnel deployed to different peacekeeping missions in the world.
The first is Ethiopia with 7,499, while third and fourth are Bangladesh, 6,487 and India with 6,319.
Bohac also noted that what makes America strong is the partnerships with allies. In today's very complex and dangerous conflicts, he noted, it is "very rare for a country to go it alone."
"This is a journey of commitment and we are in it for a long time."
Officers of both delegations pose for a group photo after the signing of the MoU. / Sam Ngendahimana
During the ceremony to formalise the partnership, it was revealed that the deal will lay the foundation for a long-term relationship by sharing expertise in emergency and disaster response, as well as strengthening cooperation in peacekeeping operations and readiness.
Gen Jean-Bosco Kazura, RDF Chief of Defence Staff, said their partnership which started in 2010 "is a journey which is going to bear very good results."
"We are happy to be here, together, today, and I want to pledge that Rwanda Defence Force is going to make sure to do all it can to ensure that this is going to be a successful partnership," Kazura said.
On peacekeeping, he said "it's up to us here to make this a peaceful world. We have the means and we have the commitment".
The partnership deal goes beyond the military to include the national economy.
"If we don't go beyond the military we can't achieve good results in our endeavour to make this world a better place; because we more often need to address the root cause of the problem," Kazura said.
U.S. Ambassador to Rwanda, Peter H. Vrooman, shed some light on the midwestern U.S. state's ties with Rwanda, among others, reminding officials at the ceremony that "there is a very famous Nebraskan," Howard Buffet, who has put half a billion US dollars of his fortune into agriculture projects worldwide.
In 2015, Buffett pledged $500 million (about Rwf345bn) to support agriculture initiatives in Rwanda.
Besides that, more than 200 Rwandan students - beneficiaries of a fully-funded scholarship programme - are in Nebraska pursuing studies in agricultural sciences and are expected to come back and play a vital role in enhancing the country's agriculture sector.