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Bilateral Affairs Officer for Estonia

Captain Daniel Griffin, left, an A-10C pilot with Maryland Air National Guard, listens to Estonian Air Force Capt. Kalev Piirisild addresses a group of pilots assigned 
to the 104th Fighter Squadron, during Sabre Strike at Amari Air Base, Estonia on June 4, 2013. Griffin has been assigned the new Bilateral Affairs Officer for Estonia. A Bilateral Affairs Officer is a United States Army or Air National Guard officer recruited from the state National Guard unit of which he or she is a member. In the National Guard State Partnership Program, each state has a 'partner country' and the Bilateral Affairs Office serves as a conduit between the two. It is considered a diplomatic level assignment. .  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Hughes)

Captain Daniel Griffin, left, an A-10C pilot with Maryland Air National Guard, listens to Estonian Air Force Capt. Kalev Piirisild addresses a group of pilots assigned to the 104th Fighter Squadron, during Sabre Strike at Amari Air Base, Estonia on June 4, 2013. Griffin has been assigned the new Bilateral Affairs Officer for Estonia. A Bilateral Affairs Officer is a United States Army or Air National Guard officer recruited from the state National Guard unit of which he or she is a member. In the National Guard State Partnership Program, each state has a 'partner country' and the Bilateral Affairs Office serves as a conduit between the two. It is considered a diplomatic level assignment. . (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Hughes)

Baltimore -- When the new Bilateral Affairs Officer for Estonia starts working in October, it will be the first time a Maryland Air Guardsman will hold the position.

Captain Daniel Griffin, an A-10C pilot with Maryland Air National Guard, has been selected. This position is open to both Army and Air Guard members.

"It is a unique job. It is a great opportunity. Especially for a Guardsman to travel to a foreign country to work with the embassy and working with Estonian military," said Griffin. The tour is currently slated to last one year.

A Bilateral Affairs Officer is a United States Army or Air National Guard officer recruited from the state National Guard unit of which he or she is a member. In the National Guard State Partnership Program, each state has a 'partner country' and the Bilateral Affairs Office serves as a conduit between the two. It is considered a diplomatic level assignment.

The National Guard State Partnership Program partners U.S. states with European countries to support the security cooperation objectives.

Griffin will facilitate military to military relationships and will work out of the capital of Estonia, Tallinn.

"The Estonian military and people are very easy to work with. They are very interested in full participation in NATO and continuing the state partnership with the state of Maryland," said Griffin.

Griffin gained interested in the Bilateral Affairs Officer position after going to Saber Strike last year. Saber Strike is a yearly joint exercise with Baltic countries and NATO allies. "I liked being in that exercise and interacting with the current BAO (Bilateral Affairs Officer) and working with the Estonians," he said.

During Saber Strike in 2013, he worked in the mission planning cell. He attended several conferences for this year's Saber Strike planning. "I've been there a few times, Saber Strike in 2013 and planning conferences for 2014," said Griffin. "For Saber Strike and the planning conferences, I was able to interact with Estonian and Baltic states."

"I stayed after Saber Strike 2013 a few days and flew on an L-39 to help familiarize their pilots with close air support tactics and procedures," said Griffin. An L-39 is a high performance jet trainer.

Estonia shares a boarder with Russia, which is more important now given the current events in Europe and Asia.

Major General James A. Adkins, the adjutant general of Maryland, was a lieutenant colonel in 1993 and the first Bilateral Affairs Officer when the State Partnership Program started with Estonia.

Griffin will go to Estonia for training with the current BAO. He will also go to the Defense Institute of Security Assistance Management School located in Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio as part of his initial training. There he will learn to build working knowledge of security cooperation policies and procedures.

"We have a strong relationship between Maryland and Estonia," said Griffin. In addition to Saber Strike there are cyber and other missions. There are currently a few Estonians flying Maryland Army National Guard helicopters.

In addition to the Maryland Military involvement, he will also coordinate any U.S. active duty military for increased inner operability with Estonia.

"Estonia is not the largest country, but they are very interested in being a full participant in NATO and continue the strong relationship between the state of Maryland and the country of Estonia," said Griffin.

"The unique thing about this job will pull me out of the traditional Air Force pilot role and will be working to facilitate relationships with the Maryland National Guard, both Army and Air," said Griffin. "I will miss the 175th Wing and flying here."