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​The Kentucky National Guard and the Djiboutian Armed Forces (FAD) ratified a new partnership at a ceremony in Djibouti City, making Djibouti the first East African nation involved in the National Guard's State Partnership Program, according to a release. “Having a partnership with Djibouti allows us the opportunity to engage in mutually beneficial exchanges at all levels of the military as well as the civilian world,” said Maj Gen Edward Tonini, Kentucky's adjutant general. He signed the SPP agreement, together with FAD Maj Gen Zakaria Cheik Ibrahim, Djibouti's chief of defense, on June 2. “The cooperation between our two countries has strengthened positively and we are very optimistic to see … a considerable expansion of our defense and security cooperation," said Ibrahim. Djibouti already serves as a key ally to the United States in the Horn of Africa—US forces operate there out of Camp Lemonnier—and cooperates in operations ranging from humanitarian assistance to counterterrorism. Kentucky National Guard soldiers deployed to Djibouti in 2013. Kentucky signed a SPP agreement with Ecuador in 1996.