On March 14, 2019, the New York National Guard and Brazilian Armed Forces signed a joint declaration formalizing the State Partnership Program (SPP) between both institutions. The program links U.S. state national guards with armed forces of partner nations.
“This partnership reflects a U.S. offer to participate in SPP. The capabilities and operational readiness of units from various U.S. national guards motivated this accomplishment,” said Brazilian Navy Rear Admiral Guilherme da Silva Costa, deputy director of Foreign Affairs at the Ministry of Defense.
Rear Adm. Silva Costa signed the declaration alongside U.S. Army Major General Raymond F. Shields, commander of the New York National Guard and adjutant general of New York, in a ceremony on the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, in Manhattan, New York. “The New York National Guard is looking forward to a constructive relationship with Brazil which allows us to learn from each other,” said Maj. Gen. Shields.
U.S. Navy Admiral Craig S. Faller, commander of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), and U.S. Air Force General Joseph L. Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau, attended the event. Adm. Faller recalled the historical values that unite Brazilian and U.S. security and defense institutions. “As the hemisphere’s two largest democracies, our relationship has been built on an enduring promise to one another: to be steadfast, committed, and co-equal partners that work together to achieve a cooperative, prosperous, and secure hemisphere,” he said.
On February 7, 2019, Adm. Faller announced to the U.S. Senate committee that a Brazilian general would join SOUTHCOM’s structure that same year. A few days later, February 10-13, Adm. Faller visited Brazil and participated in several meetings to discuss cooperation and bilateral agreements in the defense and security areas.
Activities have yet to be scheduled as the SPP is recent. Both parties will identify mutual training interests to promote the gradual development of activities within the partnership. Activities must take place within U.S. or Brazilian military organizations, “always trying to maximize the opportunity to exchange experiences,” said Rear Adm. Silva Costa.
On the Brazilian side, the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Brazilian Armed Forces’ Foreign Affairs Office will establish contacts. On the U.S. side, the U.S. Embassy liaison in Brazil will mediate dialogues. SOUTHCOM will coordinate program activities, as per the SPP.
Rear Adm. Silva Costa clarified that the formalized partnership will consist of exchanges between members of the New York National Guard and the Brazilian Armed Forces. “Both sides have vast experience and renowned expertise, thus the expectation is for a meaningful knowledge, professional, and operational exchange, in the various areas of activities they have in common,” the officer said.
The U.S. National Guard SPP has been building relationships for 26 years. Brazil is the 83rd country to enter the partnership that seeks to promote security cooperation through long-standing relationships with nations within the program.
In South America, Ecuador and Kentucky, and Peru and West Virginia, are the longest partnerships, dating back to 1996. Bolivia and the Mississippi National Guard partnered in 1999, while Uruguay and Connecticut, as well as El Salvador and New Hampshire, began in 2000.
The New York National Guard is also linked with the South African National Defence Force through an SPP, since 2003. Both institutions carried out their most recent activities in 2018, in South Africa, when 38 service members and two aircraft from the New York National Guard’s aerial component joined the U.S. contingent at the biennial Africa Aerospace and Defence Expo that included air shows. Such events and exchanges may be part of the series of activities developed between the United States and Brazil.