COTONOU, BENIN - A new era of cooperation in the National Guard Bureau's State Partnership Program (SPP) in west Africa began this week as the North Dakota National Guard formalized its association with the Republic of Benin.
Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general, led a delegation from the National Guard, and took part in a formal ceremony on April 3, where he signed a State Partnership agreement with the host nation of Benin on behalf of the National Guard Bureau.
This agreement is the first of two partnerships that were formalized in Africa last week. The second was signed April 4 with Togo. With the addition of these two nations to the SPP, North Dakota National Guard is the first state National Guard to be officially partnered with three African nations. Prior to the ceremony, the North Dakota Guard delegation met with the Honorable Michael Raynor, United States Ambassador Republic of Benin, to discuss the North Dakota National Guard's role in future military-to-military engagements with the host nation.
"Boosting this military engagement makes sense," said Raynor. "You will find the Benin military to be welcoming, grateful and accommodating."
During the signing ceremony, an agreement document was signed by Sprynczynatyk and Rear-Admiral Denis H. Gbessemehlan, Chief of the Defense Staff, Beninese Armed Forces.
"We truly look forward to this partnership with the country of Benin," Sprynczynatyk said. "Working together we can build a program that will strengthen our military organizations and our cultural understanding as well. Benin has a proud history and we look forward to being a part of your future."
Nationwide, the State Partnership Program continues to grow and thrive. With the new partnership agreements that will be signed this week, the North Dakota National Guard becomes the model for the regionalization of such partnerships throughout the National Guard. North Dakota is currently celebrating its tenth year of partnership with the country of Ghana.