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South Dakota State Partnership Program attends Women in the Military Conference

114th Fighter Wing Airmen pose with members of the Suriname Defense Force during the National Guard State Partnership Program’s Women in the Military Conference May 14-19, 2018.

114th Fighter Wing Airmen pose with members of the Suriname Defense Force during the National Guard State Partnership Program’s Women in the Military Conference May 14-19, 2018. The conference allowed for the exchange of ideas on promoting the importance of women in the U.S. and Suriname militaries. (Courtesy photo by Capt. Betsy Suhr)

Tech. Sgt. Rachael Bjerke, 114th Medical Group dental assistant, talks about her experience in the South Dakota Air National Guard to Suriname Defense Force members during the National Guard State Partnership Program’s Women in the Military Conference May 14-19, 2018.

Tech. Sgt. Rachael Bjerke, 114th Medical Group dental assistant, talks about her experience in the South Dakota Air National Guard to Suriname Defense Force members during the National Guard State Partnership Program’s Women in the Military Conference May 14-19, 2018. The conference allowed for the exchange of ideas on promoting the importance of women in the U.S. and Suriname militaries. (Courtesy photo by Capt. Betsy Suhr)

114th Fighter Wing Airmen answered questions and listened to women of the Suriname Defense Force during the National Guard State Partnership Program’s Women in the Military Conference May 14-19, 2018.

114th Fighter Wing Airmen answered questions and listened to women of the Suriname Defense Force during the National Guard State Partnership Program’s Women in the Military Conference May 14-19, 2018. The conference allowed for the exchange of ideas on promoting the importance of women in the U.S. and Suriname militaries. (Courtesy photo by Capt. Betsy Suhr)

JOE FOSS FIELD, S.D. --

Four members of the 114th Fighter Wing travelled to Suriname for the Women in the Military Conference in Paramaribo, SR, May 14-19, 2018. The conference allowed for the exchange of ideas on promoting the importance of women in the U.S. and Suriname militaries.

 

One of the primary goals for the Acting Commander of the Suriname Defense Force, Col. Robert Kartodikromo, is to improve the working conditions and opportunities available to women in the SDF within the next three to five years. 

 

The women from the 114th Fighter Wing talked to and exchanged ideas with approximately 20 female members of the SDF, as well as some of the men in leadership positions. The members of the SDF looked to the South Dakota National Guard for guidance in developing a more modern and professional military force.

 

“We were able to talk about the policies, guidelines, and programs in place that are available to women in the U.S. military,” said Master Sgt. Jayme Warren, 114th Medical Group bio-environmental engineering non-commissioned officer in charge. 

 

Throughout the conference, Airmen talked about their experiences in the U.S. military in both large and small group settings. The small group discussion proved to be beneficial for both the Airmen and members of the SDF. 

 

“The small group discussion was the best part for us because we really got to talk to them in a more intimate setting and learn more about what changes they want to see in the future,” said Warren.

 

The SDF plans to take the core ideas given by the 114th Fighter Wing Airmen, as well as feedback provided by their own members during the conference and implement them in their daily operations. 

 

“Both parties were very receptive of all the information that was provided by the Suriname Defense Force,” said Capt. Betsy Suhr, South Dakota Army National Guard bilateral affairs officer. “The conference really helped foster and build on the relationship between the U.S. and Suriname militaries, which is what the State Partnership Program is all about.”

 

Through the State Partnership Program, the South Dakota National Guard and Suriname Defense Force will continue to develop insight and foster ideas to better incorporate women in the SDF ranks.