The National Guard Bureau Public Affairs Office recently published the volume, The National Guard State Partnership Program: Forging and Maintaining Effective Security Cooperation Partnerships for the 21st Century.
William B. Boehm is the lead author, with contributions added by Steven Stearns and Derek Nestell.
This monograph details the history of the first 20 years of the National Guard State Partnership Program (SPP). The Guard created the program in the years immediately following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Starting in April 1993, the concept paired state National Guards with countries that shared cultural, geographic, economic, and other similar characteristics.
The exchanges sought to incorporate the concept of civilian rule over military forces in the states of Central and Eastern Europe, and among former Soviet republics. Many of these states had declared their independence or had instituted reform governments in a democratic framework for the first time in their history. The United States exchanged knowledge with these nations, acting carefully so as not to provoke the former Soviet Union at this juncture. A fragile power vacuum existed, however, if the U.S. did not act to provide some guidance to these fledgling nations at this juncture.
The SPP grew beyond its original pairings to the continents of South America, Asia and Africa. As world geopolitical situations have changed, so has the SPP. Joint exercises provided the opportunity for National Guard Soldiers and Airmen, as well as their foreign partners, to share their expertise in several different ways.
The bonds of friendship among these pairings have grown to the degree where National Guard units called overseas are training and deploying with their foreign counterparts, as brothers in arms. These missions stabilized training of foreign security personnel in war zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan in Overseas Contingency Operations within the last 5 years. The presence of partner nations decreased the dependency on U.S. forces in the recent overseas warfight. Administering the SPP comes at a relatively low monetary cost, yet has proven an effective way to strengthen international military relationships and better balance security concerns around the world.