TLI Senior Fellow and Alum Honored for Support and Cyber Training in Croatia | Technological Leadership Institute

Posted on
October 20, 2017
From left to right: Photo of Mike Johnson, Mirko Sundov and Col. Matthew Vatter

The Technological Leadership Institute (TLI) is honored to be recognized for its ongoing partnership with the Minnesota National Guard and the Croatian Ministry of Defense, led by Mike Johnson, director of graduate studies for the M.S. in Security Technologies (MSST) program. Johnson and 2017 MSST graduate Col. Matthew Vatter were among those honored by Gen. Mirko Sundov, chief of defense for the Armed Forces of the Republic of Croatia on October 20 with the Order of the Croatian Interlace Award.

The award recognizes their individual efforts advancing the progress and reputation of Croatia. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Minnesota and Croatia’s pairing in the National Guard State Partnership Program. The program was designed to foster cooperation and mutual assistance between state’s National Guard and the armed forces of partner countries. During that time, Minnesota has provided millions of dollars and thousands of hours in support and training to the Croatian Department of Defense and its partners.

TLI’s involvement in the program was initiated in 2011 by Senior Fellow Brian Isle and MSST faculty member Karl Mattson. Johnson has continued to expand that relationship the past two years, lending his expertise with annual training sessions overseas. During his most recent trip this past August during Croatia’s cybersecurity symposium, Johnson led training on cyber security and critical infrastructure for the Croatian Military of Defense and its partners. He and Col. Vatter also met with the ambassador to Croatia during the visit.

“It’s essential that our allies and key partners have the knowledge and capabilities to protect and respond to issues and incidents impacting critical infrastructure and data systems,” said Johnson.

Col. Vatter, who is an MSST alumnus and director of strategic plans and policy at the Minnesota National Guard, has been heavily involved in collaborating the long-term strategic relationship plan for Minnesota’s State Partnership Program with Croatia. This year a group of about 30 soldiers and airmen from across Minnesota spent their annual training in a town hit hard by conflicts in the early 90s. Crews provided engineering and construction support to a school in desperate need of repair.

“It is partnerships like this that demonstrate how closely tied the global success and security of our allies is to our local and national safety and prosperity,” said Johnson. “It underscores the importance of educating and properly preparing the next generation of security leaders with the vital tools and skills needed to protect us all.”

To learn more about our Master of Science in Security Technologies program, click here.

“It is partnerships like this that demonstrate how closely tied the global success and security of our allies is to our local and national safety and prosperity.”

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