National Guard's State Partnership Program helps build relationships with African nations

U.S. Army Africa Public Affairs

Army Staff Sgt. Kyle D. Gaerte of the Utah National Guard vaccinates a horse with a de-worming medicine during Exercise African Lion 2009. More than 400 sheep, goats and horses were treated with medication that will help prevent internal and bacterial parasites, and respiratory viruses. (Photo by Master Sgt. Grady Fontana, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe Public Affairs)
A Morroccan Soldier watches as Utah National Guard members from the 19th Special Forces Group train with the 1st Ski Battalion of the Royal Morroccan Armed Forces in March. At 10,000 feet, the altitude of the training location, the focus of the exercise was on disaster preparedness, snow movement and mountain-rescue techniques. (Photo by Lt. Col. Hank McIntire, Utah National Guard)
Soldiers from the Ghana Armed Forces demonstrate their new and reviewed combat medic procedures during a simulation exercise at the closing ceremony of MEDFLAG 11 at Burma Camp Accra, Ghana July 21. A key program in the United States’ efforts to partner with the government of Ghana, MEDFLAG 11 is the latest in a series of exercises involving U.S. military forces and African partner militaries with the aim of establishing and developing military interoperability, regional relationships, synchronization of effort and capacity-building. (Photo by Spc. Jess Raasch, 116th Public Affairs Detachment, U.S. Army National Guard)
Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, the adjutant general of the North Dakota National Guard, visits with children in Ghana, Africa, during a State Partnership Program trip last year. (Photo courtesy of the North Dakota National Guard)
State Partnership Program

VICENZA, Italy , Feb 13, 2013 — A novel and flexible program managed by the National Guard is assisting U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Army Africa to create and maintain relationships with African partner nations.

Known as the State Partnership Program, 54 states and territories are matched with countries around the globe to support U.S. national interests and security cooperation goals. National Guard organizations from eight states are matched with African partner nations. For example the North Dakota National Guard is partnered with Ghana Armed Forces and the California Guard is paired with Nigeria.

In January, USARAF Commander Maj. Gen. Patrick J. Donahue II attended an SPP Conference for Africa in Warren, Mich. More than 40 representatives from eight states and several commands such as AFRICOM, USARAF and National Guard Bureau attended the conference.

“The SPP conference was designed to generate dialogue and collaboration between USARAF and state partners, with a goal of synchronizing our efforts in support of developing our African army partners,” Donahue said.

Working with long and short term goals in mind, the program is divided by regional area of responsibilities and linked to combatant commands known as COCOMs, and include National Guard personnel from both Army and Air Force. AFRICOM is connected to eight National Guard states: California, Michigan, North Carolina, North Dakota, New York, Utah, Vermont and Wyoming.

According to California National Guard State Partnership Director, Capt. Clayton Smith, the California Air National Guard is currently working with the Nigerian Air Force to improve their C-130 fleet.

“Working with the Nigerian Air Force is an on-going component of the California SPP,” Smith said. “We have been working alongside U.S. Air Force Europe and U.S. Air Force Africa in hosting a variety of familiarization visits to demonstrate to the Nigerians typical USAF C-130 flying and maintenance operations focusing specifically on overall flying operations, airframe/engine maintenance and airframe corrosion control operations,” he said.

In the recent past, SPP states integrated with U.S. Army Africa in exercises and activities with African partner nations to include leadership and NCO development, field training and command post exercises.

“The State Partnership Program has the advantage of creating relationships that endure for many years, and serve as a model of success for sharing expertise, knowledge, skill sets and developing lasting relationship on the continent of Africa,” Donahue said. “Additionally, the states can readily access a wide variety of skills and specialties, given the size and composition of states’ National Guard forces and the civilian skills that National Guard personnel bring to the table,” he said.

Beginning in March, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, stationed in Fort Riley, Kansas, will support AFRICOM’s security cooperation requirements. SPP states and USARAF will develop a series of linked activities that build a fielded and sustainable capability in our partner army.

“The Army’s Vision for Regionally Aligned Forces emphasizes providing culturally attuned and globally minded Soldiers who are capable of working with foreign forces to share their knowledge and expertise toward the long-term goal of developing enduring relationship and strengthening security cooperation between the United States and partner nation land forces,” Donahue said. “The RAF can learn what works from the SPP states,” he said.

SPP can readily access a wide array of skills and specialties, given the size and composition of states’ National Guard forces and the civilian skills that National Guard personnel can also bring to the table

“The RAF brigade is slated for just about 120 activities in 34 countries in Africa in a six month period. “The RAF brigade won’t be able to conduct all of U.S. Army Africa’s planned activities, and we will continue to count on the support from the National Guard to fulfill the majority our missions,” he said.

The USARAF commander believes SPPs are and will continue to have positive influence on the people of the African continent.

“With the State Partnership Program, we are able to create, improve and maintain important relationships with our African partners with programs that both promote professionalism and make a difference,” Donahue said.