BISMARCK, N.D. (2/27/14) - The North Dakota National Guard (NDNG) has broadened its participation in the National Guard Bureau's State Partnership Program (SPP) by announcing the addition of two new partnerships with the West African countries of the Togolese Republic and Republic of Benin.
Last month, the NDNG commemorated 10 years of partnering with Ghana, a collaboration that has fostered and established long-term relationships between North Dakota's military and state agencies and their Ghanaian counterparts.
"The North Dakota National Guard, under the leadership of Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, has done an outstanding job advancing this program and building a strong and productive relationship between our state and the country of Ghana," said Gov. Jack Dalrymple. "We are proud to play a key role in securing our nation's defense around the world and look forward to expanding this program by developing partnerships with the countries of the Togolese Republic and the Republic of Benin."
Administered by the National Guard Bureau, the SPP is guided by the U.S. State Department's foreign policy goals and executed by the state adjutants general in support of security cooperation objectives and Department of Defense policy goals. Through partnerships such as those between North Dakota and the Togolese Republic and Republic of Benin, the SPP aims to promote access, enhance military capabilities, improve interoperability and enhance the principles of responsible governance. The addition of Togo and Benin make for a total of 10 partnership countries in Africa for the SPP.
"The North Dakota National Guard is an ideal partner for the countries of Togo and Benin because of the Guard's diverse and unique mission capabilities that allow for a robust military-to-military exchange. These exchanges are important to grow the knowledge base and experience levels of both the National Guard and the partnering countries as we learn from each other in a mutually beneficial way," Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general, said.
The partnerships now formed between North Dakota, Togo and Benin further demonstrate the National Guard commitment to support the National Defense Strategy and increasingly focus on regions such as Africa. The Guard possesses capabilities, such as humanitarian assistance, disaster response, defense support to civil authorities, construction, security, and professional officer and noncommissioned officer development, that will help meet the needs of both Togo and Benin and the U.S. Department of Defense in Africa.
The new partnership with both Togo and Benin was signed into effect in Stuttgart, Germany, by the commander of U.S. Africa Command (U.S. AFRICOM), U.S. Army Gen. David M. Rodriquez.
North Dakota began its partnership with Ghana in 2004. Over the last 10 years, the partnership has grown from military-to-military engagements and missions with members and units of the NDNG and now includes civilian-to-civilian and business-to-business partnerships. Sprynczynatyk and Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley, during a visit to Ghana last month, had an opportunity to discuss a myriad of topics with Ghanaian leaders, including international trade, economic growth and stability, agriculture research and development, and technologies surrounding the response to disasters. North Dakota has had many successful engagements with Ghana, to include helping build a disaster preparedness program, foster engineer exchanges and collaboration with civilian entities.
Togo and Benin also will continue to present opportunities for joint, multilateral engagements that can be beneficial in providing valuable training for the North Dakota Air and Army National Guard. Soldiers and Airmen working with Togolese and Beninese officials will demonstrate how a military organization can interact with citizens and their government, while reinforcing the concept that the military is subordinate to that nation's civil authorities. SPP links a unique component of the Department of Defense - a state's National Guard - with the armed forces or equivalent of a partner country in a cooperative, mutually beneficial relationship.
At the national level, the SPP is in its 20th year of successfully building relationships between the United States and nations around the globe. With the inclusion of Togo and Benin, the SPP includes 68 unique security partnerships.