The United States National Guard State Partnership Program
By Dialogo July 01, 2011
The United States National Guard’s State Partnership Program (SPP) partners U.S. states with foreign nations to promote and enhance bilateral relations. Sixty-two countries worldwide are linked to 48 states, two territories (Puerto Rico and Guam) and the U.S. capital, Washington, D.C. In Latin America and the Caribbean, 15 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., help increase the capacity and capabilities of 20 partner countries.
The SPP reflects an evolving international affairs mission for the U.S. National Guard, promoting regional stability and civil-military relationships. State partners actively participate in numerous engagement activities, including bilateral familiarization and training events, exercises and leader mentorships. These activities include support to other security cooperation activities such as emergency management, disaster response, border and port security, leadership and noncommissioned officer development, medical capacity, and developing the capabilities of peacekeeping operations.
Examples of this cooperation include the New Hampshire National Guard assisting El Salvador in improving its disaster relief capabilities, the New Mexico National Guard working with Costa Rica on drug demand reduction, and the Louisiana National Guard partnering with Belize in support of reconstruction efforts in Haiti.
The SPP enables the National Guard to further define and fulfill its role as a good will ambassador around the world. Guard members apply military and civilian skills to foster democracy, encourage economic development and promote regional cooperation and stability.
Other partnership projects include:
Counter Illicit Trafficking: Costa Rica: The Central American country estimates that 180,000 residents out of its population of 4.5 million are drug users and that 27 to 50 people die each year from overdoses. Costa Rica is a transshipment country for cocaine and heroin from South America. Illicit production of cannabis in remote areas and domestic cocaine consumption, particularly crack cocaine, is rising. The New Mexico National Guard assists Costa Rica with counterdrug efforts.
Peacekeeping Operations: Through SPP, the National Guard has contributed to the training of more than 3,500 partner personnel who are contributing to the following United Nations peacekeeping missions: MINUSTAH (Haiti), MONUSCO (Democratic Republic of the Congo) and UNIFIL (Lebanon).
Humanitarian Assistance: The Louisiana National Guard joined forces with its partner, the Belize Defence Forces, to fulfill four engineering projects in Haiti as part of the New Horizons 2010 exercise.
How to participate in the State Partnership Program: Nations interested in joining the SPP can contact the United States Southern Command State Partnership Program office by telephone at +001-305-437-3352. Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking personnel are available to handle queries.
A government wishing to participate should submit a request to the U.S. ambassador in that country. After receipt of the request, the process usually takes seven months to one year to complete.