Sioux City, Iowa --
Mayors from around the nation of Kosovo along with other delegates visited the Iowa Air National Guard’s 185th Air Refueling Wing in Sioux City, Iowa this week.
The main purpose of the group’s visit to Sioux City this week was to formalize a sister-city agreement between the city of Sioux City and the city of Gjilian, in Kosovo. The delegation was in Sioux City to witness the event along with Mayor Lutfi Haziri who is the mayor of the city of Gjilian.
During the visit to the Iowa Air Guard unit the delegation met with 185th Air Refueling Wing Commander, Colonel Mark Muckey and members of the 185th leadership team. The group also had a short tour of the Air Guard facility where they explored one of the unit’s KC-135 aircraft.
According to event organizers the interest in visiting the Air Guard unit is due to an already established National Guard Bureau State Partner Program which has had Iowa paired with Kosovo since 2011. The partner program has the Iowa National Guard working closely with the Kosovo Security Force where they have hosted a variety of training events both in Iowa and Kosovo since the program’s inception.
According to the National Guard Bureau the overarching goal of the state partnership program is to link the states and build military to military as well as civil-military relationships. The goal is to improve long-term regional security throughout southern Europe by building these relationships.
The state partner program has spawned interest in other state and municipal dealings like the sister-city relationship. Cities in Iowa that already have established sister-city relationships in Kosovo include Johnston, Fort Dodge and Norwalk, Iowa. Sioux City as well as Dubuque have both been working to establish similar sister-city relationships.