Illinois, Polish military mark 25 years of cooperation

JOLIET, IL - MARCH 27: The Illinois National Guard armory where Hasan Edmonds served sits along a commercial street on March 27, 2015 in Joliet, Illinois. Hasan, 22, who was a Specialist in the Illinois National Guard, was arrested at Chicago's Midway Airport where he is suspected of trying to travel to Egypt to try and join ISIS. His cousin Jonas Edmonds, 29, was arrested at his home in suburban Aurora. The two are accused of plotting a terrorist attack on the armory which was to be carried out by Jonas. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

CHICAGO – The Illinois National Guard and Poland’s military are marking 25 years of cooperation that began in the years after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

A State Partnership Program between Poland and the Illinois National Guard started in 1993.

A statement from the Illinois governor’s office says the state has played a major role in upgrading Poland’s air force. Air National Guard pilots flew the first F-16 to Poland as the Warsaw Pact country-turned-NATO member modernized its military.

Illinois National Guard Major General Richard Hayes first worked with Polish soldiers in 1999. He says the sides “have forged a powerful and undying level of trust.”

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office says he met top officials at Poland’s defense ministry in Warsaw on Monday and proclaimed it State Partnership Day in Illinois.