State Partnership Program
The State Partnership Program is a key U.S. security cooperation tool that facilitates cooperation across all aspects of international civil-military affairs and encourages people-to-people ties at the state level.
The State Partnership Program is a Department of Defense security cooperation program managed by the Chief of National Guard Bureau, executed by geographic commands, and sourced by the 54 U.S. states, territories, and the District of Columbia. SPP began in 1993 with the three Baltic Republics and has grown to 100 partnerships; 18 of those partnerships are among U.S. states and African nations.
The program directly supports Department of Defense objectives and theater campaign plans by building relationships that enhance global security, understanding, and cooperation. The program fosters long-term relationships across all levels of society and encourages the development of economic, political, and military ties between the states and partner nations.
During the past five years, the 18 partnerships in Africa included hundreds of events in support of security cooperation objectives, involving thousands of partner-nation personnel.
There are currently 18 State Partnerships between the United States and African nations:
- Benin, Ghana, and Togo are partnered with the North Dakota National Guard
- Botswana, Malawi, and Zambia and the North Carolina National Guard
- Burkina Faso and the D.C. National Guard
- Cabo Verde and the New Hampshire National Guard
- Djibouti and the Kentucky National Guard
- Kenya and the Massachusetts National Guard
- Liberia and the Michigan National Guard
- Morocco and the Utah National Guard
- Niger and the Indiana National Guard
- Nigeria and the California National Guard
- Senegal and the Vermont National Guard
- South Africa and the New York National Guard
- Tunisia and the Wyoming National Guard
- Rwanda and the Nebraska National Guard
Benin, Ghana, and Togo | North Dakota National Guard
The State Partnership Program between North Dakota and Ghana began in 2004. The purpose of the program is to foster mutual interests and establish habitual long-term relationships across all levels of society. The program as a whole encourages the development of economic, political, and military ties between the states and partner nations. Over the last ten years, the North Dakota's and Ghana's partnership has grown from military-to-military engagements and missions with members and units of the North Dakota National Guard to now including civilian-to-civilian and business-to-business partnerships.
In February 2014, North Dakota broadened its participation in the SPP by entering into new partnerships with the West African countries Republic of Benin, and the Togolese Republic. North Dakota's partnerships with Ghana, Benin, and Togo represent the formalization of a regional SPP relationship, which is a cost-effective approach to strengthening the cooperation, communication, and interoperability of neighboring countries in a manner that benefits U.S. national interests.
Botswana, Malawi, and Zambia | North Carolina National Guard
The partnership between Botswana and the North Carolina National Guard began in 2008. Activities between the partners concentrate on special forces development, air and ground force development, emergency management, and peace-keeping operations. As the North Carolina National Guard fosters relationships outside of the Ministry of Defense, the state government focuses on reciprocal higher education, agriculture, economic development, and law enforcement with Botswana.
Following the successful partnership with Botswana, the North Carolina National Guard further expanded its participation in April 2023 by entering into partnerships with Malawi and Zambia. The move highlights the North Carolina National Guard's joint commitment with its partners to foster robust security and disaster response collaborations with African nations. The program's activities with Zambia and Malawi are comprehensive, and intend to go beyond traditional military-to-military engagements to include emergency management and disaster response exercises; border and port security programs; leadership and officer development; medical capacity-building; economic security strengthening; natural resource protection; peacekeeping operations; and counter-trafficking, counter-proliferation, and counter-terrorism support.
Burkina Faso | District of Columbia National Guard
On February 1, 2019, Burkina Faso became the 76th nation to join the State Partnership Program. At a ceremony held at the Ministry of Defense in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Maj. Gen. William J. Walker, commanding general, District of Columbia National Guard and Brigade General Moses Miningou, chief of general staff, Armed Forces of Burkina Faso, signed the historic partnership agreement.
Together, they agreed to build a mutually rewarding relationship of cooperation, which will be founded on the preservation of mutual interests, to share their cultural diversity and strengthen their capabilities by integrating investment in human capital within the exchanges, and to embark upon a lasting relationship between the National Armed Forces of Burkina Faso and the National Guard of the District of Columbia, in the best interests of security and development.
Cabo Verde | New Hampshire National Guard
The New Hampshire National Guard and Cabo Verde became state partners during a ceremony in Cabo Verde on Feb. 4, 2022. Following the ceremony, planners went to work assessing a way ahead to conduct not only military-to-military partnership, but civic support for schools, education and health care.
Djibouti | Kentucky National Guard
The Kentucky National Guard and Djibouti began State Partnership Program cooperation in 2015, in support of the US AFRICOM Theater Security Cooperation Strategy.
Through cooperative training exercises and key leadership engagements, National Guard and partner-nation service members are learning from each other and forming lasting relationships to enhance each other’s forces for the future. The program increases strength in peacetime, which will improve capabilities and interoperability in times of conflict.
The SPP allows National Guard to partner with allied nations, like Djibouti to strengthen relationships and interoperability, enhance military capabilities, and increase cultural awareness and professional skills among U.S. military personnel and their counterparts.
The program is based on a full-spectrum exchange philosophy partnering service members from every rank with their allied-nation counterpart. For example, a Kentucky Infantry squad will train alongside a military police-type unit from Djibouti. With these exchanges, privates, junior NCOs, and junior officers gain the opportunity to focus on their skillset. At the same time, our commanding generals and senior enlisted leaders spend time working alongside their counterparts in Djibouti, building the relationship from the bottom to the top.
The partnership is sustained by conducting exchanges focusing on military and civilian best practices in such areas as air and land forces interoperability, disaster management, and professional development. On average between 5-10 exchanges take place between the Kentucky National Guard and Djiboutian Armed Forces each year, both in their home country and throughout Kentucky’s commonwealth.
Kenya | Massachusetts National Guard
Through the State Partnership Program, established in 2015, the Massachusetts National Guard conducts mutually beneficial engagements in support of defense security cooperation goals and work to strengthen its partner nation's domestic response capabilities. The partnership focus includes natural disaster preparation and assisting Kenya’s peacekeeping forces to deploy on United Nations Peacekeeping Operations missions.
Liberia | Michigan National Guard
Through the State Partnership Program Liberia and the Michigan National Guard partner nation’s military, security forces, and disaster response organizations in a cooperative, mutually beneficial relationship. Since 2014 Michigan has teamed up with Liberia to strengthen alliances and enhance mutual benefits of increased readiness.
Morocco | Utah National Guard
Since becoming partners in 2003, the Utah National Guard and the Kingdom of Morocco have participated in more than one hundred bilateral engagements and exchanges encompassing a colossal range of military competencies to include aviation operations, aviation maintenance, aviation safety, special operations, military law, medical casualty care, engineering, cyber security, communications, disaster response, CBRNE operations, de-mining, leadership development, headquarters operations, border security, and humanitarian assistance.
Currently, the State Partnership Program is focused on enhancing emergency response capabilities, counter-threat activities & border security, Joint Messaging Center operations & communications interoperability, and military intelligence programs.
The partnership aims to support Morocco in order to become an exporter of security and stability in North Africa through global combatant command security cooperation objectives.
Niger | Indiana National Guard
The State Partnership Program links the Indiana National Guard with the armed forces of Niger in a cooperative, mutually beneficial relationship by means of tailored, small footprint, high-impact security cooperation engagements that foster long-term, enduring relationships.
Nigeria | California National Guard
The California National Guard was awarded the partnership with Nigeria in 2006, and since then partnering to improve Nigerian first responder medical capabilities, emergency management, UN Peacekeeping Operations, junior leader development, and counter-narcotics while regularly conducting senior leader visits. Partnership activities also concentrate on improving Nigerian security procedures, rule of law, aviation maintenance, human rights, and service member welfare.
Senegal | Vermont
The relationship between the Vermont National Guard and the Republic of Senegal was established in 2008. Senegalese President Wade visited Vermont in 2008, Senegalese President Sall visited in 2014 and President Obama visited Senegal in 2013. Numerous medical, engineer and aviation exercises have occurred during this partnership.
In 2015, the Vermont National Guard and engineers with the Senegalese Armed Forces constructed a humanitarian land mine detection training range at Camp Moussa Diom, Bargny, Senegal. The Vermont National Guard and the Republic of Senegal continue to work together in Humanitarian Mine Action programs.
The Vermont National Guard's skilled medical staff partnered with Senegalese counterparts to enhance medical skills by providing real-world medical services to people in Senegal. In 2018, the Vermont National Guard performed a medical training exercise with Senegalese medical teams as part of MEDRETE-18.
South Africa | New York National Guard
The New York National Guard and South African forces have engaged in partnership events together since 2003, executing bilateral events to include military and civilian engagements to promote regional stability in Africa.
New York National Guard leadership conducts regular visits to South Africa for discussions with representatives of the South African National Defense Force. Since 2003, the two partners have conducted more than 70 joint training events and exchanges. A significant highlight of the state partnership is the regular participation of the New York Air National Guard in the bi-Annual African Aerospace and Defense Air Show held at Air Force Base Waterkloof, located on the outskirts of Pretoria, South Africa.
Other engagements include New York Army and Air National Guard participation in the South African National Defense Force Combat Rifle and Soldier Skills Competitions, New York Army National Guard Military Police officers visiting the South African military police training center, firefighter exchanges, and specialty staff, chaplaincy, and family readiness engagements.
Tunisia | Wyoming National Guard
The Wyoming National Guard’s partnership with Tunisia, which began in 2004, has resulted in numerous military-to-military exchanges capitalizing on mutual capabilities in aviation (C-130 and UH-60), medical (ground and aeromedical evacuation), infantry training, and staff officer professional development.
Engagement between the two countries is steadily growing. In 2017 the program executed 15 exchanges, conducted 22 in 2018, and 33 are planned for next year. The Wyoming National Guard has worked diligently to increase engagements between Tunisia and other Wyoming state government and civilian agencies.
In 2019 Wyoming hosted the 33rd Joint Military Commission – the first time it was held outside of one of the national capitals – between the US and Tunisia. Among the dignitaries in attendance were the Tunisian Minister of Defense, the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs, US Ambassador to Tunisia, and the Tunisian Ambassador to the United States.
The University of Wyoming is developing an extensive engagement strategy with Tunisia, to include student and faculty exchanges and academic programs. It sent its first summer work-study student to Tunis this year. That student happens to also be a Wyoming Army National Guard member.
Rwanda | Nebraska National Guard
The Nebraska National Guard and Rwanda signed the framework to become the Department of Defense’s 15th state partnership in Africa following a ceremony in Kigali, Rwanda, on Dec. 12, 2019.
The partnership will focus on sharing expertise in emergency and disaster response as well as strengthening cooperation in peacekeeping operations and readiness for the Rwanda Defence Force, which contributes more troops each year to United Nations peacekeeping missions than all but a few much larger countries.
To learn more, click here to see the National Guard Bureau's information about the State Partnership Program.