ACCRA, GHANA - A small North Dakota delegation, led by Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley and Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, adjutant general for the North Dakota National Guard, visited senior government and military officials in Accra, Ghana, West Africa on a dual-purpose mission.
Part of the week-long visit consisted of a ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the National Guard Bureau's State Partnership Program (SPP). During the ceremony, both Wrigley and Sprynczynatyk spoke to a capacity crowd regarding the milestones, achievements and future potential of the SPP.
They were joined with Ghanaian speakers including Minister of Defence Mark Owen Woyongo; Ghana Armed Forces Chief of Defence Staff Vice Adm. Mathew Quashie and Director of the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) Kofi Portuphy.
During his speech, Wrigley said, "This endeavor began 10 years ago as a military partnership and has spread to healthcare, business and economic partnerships. Later this month, another delegation will visit from North Dakota that will bring experts in the fields of industry, trade and agriculture. They will reach out to the people of Ghana in an effort to enhance the value to this State Partnership Program."
The North Dakota delegation also met with several senior government leaders in Ghana.
The purpose of the meetings was to engage in dialog surrounding military-to-military partnerships and missions, as well as discussing the potential for civilian-to-civilian and business-to-business partnerships.
Discussions covered such topics as international trade, economic growth and stability, agriculture research and development, and technologies surrounding the response to disasters.
During the meeting with the minister of defence, Sprynczynatyk said, "What we have been able to put in place over that last ten years has been very, very good and we appreciate the exchanges that have taken place in Ghana and in North Dakota as well. As we look to the future, we continue to see more opportunity. Our values, especially patriotism, are very much the same."
The SPP 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. The National Guard functions as a role model in demonstrating how a military organization can interact with the citizens and their government while reinforcing the concept that the military is subordinate to that nation's civil authorities. The National Guard program began in 1993, with three Baltic nations. It has grown to include partnerships with 65 countries.