W.Va. National Guard and Irregular Warfare Center sign Memorandum of Understanding

West Virginia Press Association

KINGWOOD, W.Va. – The West Virginia National Guard signed a formal Memorandum of Understanding with the Irregular Warfare Center during a Ridge Runner Irregular Warfare exercise at Camp Dawson, in Kingwood, West Virginia, April 19, 2024.

Maj. Gen. Bill Crane, Adjutant General of the West Virginia National Guard, and Dr. Dennis Walters, Director of the Irregular Warfare Center, signed the memorandum to formalize the existing WVNG/IWC partnership which includes enhancing opportunities for joint training exercises such as Ridge Runner and Ridge Healer programs, and additional sponsored events.

“Building U.S. and partner capacities and skillsets to compete in nonconventional arenas against state, non-state, and near-peer competitors is fundamental,” stated Crane. “Our partnership with the IWC helps strengthen existing and developing ties between defense industry, educational institutions, and governmental and private sector partners both here and abroad. And it drives the authorities that gives us the ability to aggressively pursue opportunities here in West Virginia that will help to train and prepare our own U.S. troops as well as our allies and partners to face the future fight.”

Walters stated that the WVNG brings unique capabilities that support the IWC mission.

“This signing symbolically represents a union of innovative thinkers that will help move the United States and our Allies and Partner Nations forward in irregular and unconventional warfare concepts during conflicts and competition,” he said. “Our mission is to empower our servicemen and women to operate in places and in ways they might not otherwise be able to do. Since our inception, our relationship with WVNG has been essential to our mission, and we couldn’t be more excited about our future together.”

The IWC serves as the central mechanism for developing the Department of Defense’s (DOD) irregular warfare knowledge and advancing the Department’s understanding of irregular warfare concepts and doctrine in collaboration with key allies and partners while bringing stake holders from across the Irregular Warfare domain together to establish a distinct IW capability advantage.

West Virginia’s Congressional Delegation have been strong supporters of the WVNG/IWC collaboration and see this memorandum signing as further evidence of the importance West Virginia does and can play in national security efforts today and in the future.

“The West Virginia National Guard continues to prove just how widely respected they are and how essential they are to our national security,” said Senator Manchin. “Ridge Runner is the only realistic exercise in the world that brings foreign partners to the U.S. multiple times a year to learn from one another and develop capabilities to counter irregular warfare threats from China and Russia. I am proud that we host this invaluable training across numerous counties in West Virginia with broad community support.”

“Ridge Runner continues to highlight the world-class expertise in irregular warfare housed within the West Virginia National Guard,” Senator Capito said. “This formalized partnership with the Irregular Warfare Center will further cement West Virginia’s unique capabilities for training U.S. and allied special operators in critical skill sets. I look forward to seeing the benefits of this partnership and continuing my support as a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.”

The Ridge Runner Irregular Warfare training exercise, held at Camp Dawson and at locations around West Virginia, is a special forces multi-domain exercise for both U.S. and Allied and Partner Nation forces, tailored to specific evolving threat scenarios faced by modern special operations and conventional forces. Exercise participants experience scenarios in real-world settings having to deal with rugged terrain and austere conditions requiring innovative solutions to movement and mission execution. The current exercise includes participants from multiple U.S. branches, and eight separate Allied and Partner nations.


Feature image caption: Maj. Gen. Bill Crane, Adjutant General of the West Virginia National Guard, signs a Memorandum of Understanding with Dr. Dennis Walters, Director of the Irregular Warfare Center, during a Ridge Runner Irregular Warfare program ceremony at Camp Dawson, Kinwgood, West Virginia, April 19, 2024. The IWC advances Department of Defense irregular warfare concepts, doctrine, and education, in collaboration with U.S. Joint Forces, key Allies and Partner Nations. The memorandum of understanding helps formalize the WVNG/IWC relationship, including enhancing opportunities for joint training exercises such as Ridge Runner and Ridge Healer programs, and additional sponsored events. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Edwin L. Wriston)

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