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NEWS | April 26, 2024

Guard, Partner Nation Leaders Collaborate at Annual State Partnership Program Conference

By Air Force Lt. Col. Allison Stephens, National Guard Bureau Public Affairs

LAS VEGAS – National Guard members and leaders from partner nations came together last week to participate in the State Partnership Program conference—an annual forum to collaborate about global security cooperation.

With more than 300 people in attendance, the conference balances the strategic importance of the Department of Defense National Guard State Partnership Program with the tactical implementation of troop-to-troop engagements and events.

With presenters from organizations from across the security cooperation field, the strategic importance of SPP has never been greater, the National Guard’s top general said.

Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, National Guard Bureau chief, addressed the attendees virtually and began by saying, “the SPP is one of my favorite programs because it adds tremendous value to the United States but also with our allies and partners around the globe.”

The CNGB went on to discuss SPP growth opportunities, specifically going beyond traditional military-to-military engagements to finding ways for the SPP to open doors leading to civilian engagements with universities, agriculture and climate exchanges, and seeking common ground to learn from each other.

“The goal is a stable military, but also we want to focus our efforts to forge economic stability that is always in synch with geographic combatant commanders’ priorities,” Hokanson said.

New to this year’s conference was a presentation on public health and how best to implement and collaborate in this area.

Air Force Col. Charla Geist, Global Health Engagement liaison to the Joint Surgeon General, National Guard Bureau, discussed the intersection of SPP engagements and global health priorities.

“Medicine is a ‘smart’ power,” she stated and cited several examples of how shared engagements for medical and trauma training have led to better synchronization across the health domain.

Tactical presentations included how to best utilize monitoring and evaluation tools, reporting requirements, career field paths for bilateral affairs officers and State Partnership Program directors. The SPPDs and BAOs manage and coordinate all approved activities including logistics, resources and budgets. While BAOs work in the partner nation and report directly to the security cooperation office, many SPPDs are managing multiple partner nations objectives.

The conference also featured presenters from the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Climate and Women, Peace and Security, U.S. Cyber Command, USAID, and the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.

The State Partnership Program began more than 30 years ago with 13 partners and has grown to 106 partner nations. The Department of Defense program is administered by the National Guard Bureau and guided by the State Department’s foreign policy goals. It is executed by the adjutants general in support of the combatant commanders, the U.S. Chief of Mission security cooperation objectives and the DOD’s strategic objectives.

“The work that you’re doing to ensure a stable and safe world is making a huge difference every single day,” Hokanson said.



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