The National Guard State Partnership Program matches up foreign countries with the National Guard from certain U.S. states. For example, the Wyoming National Guard is paired with Tunisia. The State Partnership Program grew from a 1991 U.S. European Command decision to set up the Joint Contact Team Program in the Baltic Region with Reserve component Soldiers and Airmen. The National Guard then proposed pairing U.S. states with three nations emerging from the former Soviet Bloc. The State Partnership Program was born. It has since become a key U.S. security cooperation tool, facilitating relationships across all aspects of international civil-military affairs and encouraging people-to-people ties at the state level. Here are 10 more facts about the program:
1. The State Partnership Program (SPP) is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2012-2013. The 20th anniversary year kicked off with a video about the program’s history.
2. The first three partner relationships were established between Maryland and Estonia; Michigan and Latvia; and Pennsylvania and Lithuania in 1993. The newest SPP partnership is between South Carolina and Colombia, which was just announced in July 2012.
3. Today, the program encompasses 65 partner affiliations with 70 countries across the globe — over a third of the world’s recognized countries.
5. The program supports the security cooperation objectives of combatant commanders, as well as the country objectives of the chiefs of mission within their areas of responsibility.
6. Twenty-two State Partnership Program nations have provided nearly 11,000 troops in Afghanistan. Read a short story about members of the Pennsylvania National Guard serving in Afghanistan alongside Lithuanians, and together helping to train Afghan policemen.
7. Forty countries that partner with the National Guard through the State Partnership Program currently provide a total of 31,309 troops and military experts to United Nations peacekeeping efforts.
9. State Partnership Program partner-country deployments reduce pressure on U.S. forces worldwide and hedge against the need for more direct and costly U.S. military involvement in future contingencies.
10. The State Partnership Program is all about relationship building, which was important 20 years ago and has become even more important in the post-9/11 era. Our future is in establishing enduring relationships with our friends and allies around the world and working together to develop our mutual capabilities to ensure peace and stability in the world.