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Tremendous Value: One of the tools singled out by Army Gen. William Ward, head of US Africa Command, during his Tuesday testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee was the effectiveness of the command’s various partnership-building activities with allied military forces on the continent. For example, Ward praised the State Partnership Program for its “tremendous value.” This effort pairs up elements of the National Guard from several states with African partner nations. Eight African countries currently participate in that program, and the command seeks to expand it, he said. In the past year, members of the Tennessee Air National Guard, working with Air Force Materiel Command, helped to rebuild the first of four Nigerian C-130 transports. And, while in Botswana, North Carolina Air Guardsmen demonstrated the C-130-based airborne modular firefighting system for Botswanan officials seeking new tools to combat annual fires on range lands.