CONCORD, N.H. - The New Hampshire National Guard (NHNG) announced Oct. 18 that it has been selected as the new state partner for the Republic of Cabo Verde, an archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean off the northwestern coast of Africa.
Under the auspices of the National Guard Bureau's State Partnership Program (SPP), New Hampshire was chosen after a months-long, highly competitive selection process involving several other states.
"This is great news for New Hampshire," Gov. Chris Sununu said. "We are safer as a state and country with strategic partnerships across the globe. Our citizens can rest assured that the men and women of the NHNG are the best of the best, providing leadership, security, and knowledge here and abroad."
Beginning 28 years ago as an initiative to assist countries emerging from behind the Iron Curtain, the SPP now involves 83 or one-third of the world's countries and the National Guard of every U.S. state and territory. Most of the earliest SPP countries in Europe have become U.S. allies in NATO. Many credit their National Guard state partners with helping make that possible.
Cabo Verde, a seven-hour flight from Boston, represents New Hampshire's second state partnership country. Since 2000, the NHNG and El Salvador have forged one of the program's most enduring and successful alliances.
"We have the experience and knowledge to build a strong partnership with Cabo Verde," said Maj. Gen. David Mikolaities, adjutant general of New Hampshire. "Beyond the shared benefits for Cabo Verde and New Hampshire, we have an opportunity to play a strategic role helping to maintain stability in the region."
NHNG's application for Cabo Verde included letters of support from New Hampshire's congressional delegation and other key stakeholders.
"The National Guard Bureau's selection of the NHNG to add Cabo Verde in the SPP is deserved recognition of the NHNG's extraordinary reputation as a leader in the National Guard community," said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. "This new relationship will provide NH Guardsmen with valuable experience working with our Cabo Verdean partners to combat transnational organized crime networks and provide unique opportunities to employ the 157th Air Refueling Wing's new KC-46 tankers. I look forward to the opportunity to strengthen relations between our two countries."
Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., said the SPP "helps build cooperation and capabilities in our interconnected world, a commonsense, cost-effective program that has helped ensure U.S. readiness at home and abroad."
As former governors, both Shaheen and Hassan were integral in the formation and growth of New Hampshire's state partnership program.
"This partnership will help provide for our national defense while continuing to facilitate engagement with partner nations," Hassan said.
"Granite Staters have a proud history of representing our country on the global stage, and this partnership will build on that legacy," said Rep. Annie Kuster, D-N.H. "As a state partner, the NHNG will help improve the efficacy of Cabo Verdean Armed Forces while building important bonds of friendship."
"This strategic partnership will support our national security by building lasting alliances and ensuring our two countries can work alongside each other to counter transnational organized crime operations," said Rep. Chris Pappas, D-N.H. "I'm grateful for the role the NHNG plays in keeping our communities safe and look forward to the opportunities this partnership will bring our state."
Cabo Verde, "Green Cape" in Portuguese (the country's official language), is home to just over a half million people who live on 10 volcanic islands. Located about 300 miles off the coast of Senegal, the archipelago was settled in the 15th century by Portuguese traders.
Cabo Verde gained independence from Portugal in 1975. Since the early 1990s, Cabo Verde's government has been a stable, representative democracy. The country's economy is mostly service-oriented. Its military, the Cabo Verdean Armed Forces, consists of a National Guard and Coast Guard. Its primary mission has been combating international drug trafficking.