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Chief of the National Guard Bureau's Prepared Closing Remarks for the State Partnership Program's 30th Anniversary Event

23-004 | July 19, 2023

Gen. Daniel Hokanson's, chief of the National Guard Bureau, prepared closing remarks celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the State Partnership Program delivered at an event on July 18 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center at National Harbor, Md.

Good afternoon.  I know some of you have a long journey home—and some much, much longer than others—so I’ll try to be brief.  But while we have so many different partners and so many different advocates all in one place, I want to take a moment to recognize the enormity of this occasion. 

Bringing together so many senior military and civilian leaders is a tremendous undertaking.  I want to recognize Major General Zana and his entire team for working across the globe and around the clock to make this event possible.  Thank you for all of your efforts; you’ve set a high bar for the next SPP anniversary.

I’d like to thank our speakers and our panelists for sharing their time, expertise, and insight.  I believe I speak for everyone when I say I will leave this conference with a new awareness and a new appreciation for our partnerships and their potential.

I’d like to thank the former Chiefs who made the journey to be part of this conference: Lt Gen (Ret) Conaway; MG (Ret) Rees; LTG (Ret) Blum; Gen (Ret) McKinley, GEN (Ret) Grass; and Gen (Ret.) Lengyel.  You built the SPP with your vision and leadership, and I am a humble and grateful custodian of this vital program.   

I’d also like to thank each of you, our attendees, for your interest and commitment to the State Partnership Program.  Pound-for-pound, dollar-for-dollar, this is the greatest security cooperation program in the world. 

But it is not self-executing.  It requires ongoing dialogue, investment in relationships, and the careful cultivation of trust.  Each of you make that possible. 

It’s hard to capture everything we’ve accomplished in the past two days.  We’ve looked back at the creation and evolution of the State Partnership Program.  We’ve made a clear-eyed assessment of the global security environment, and what those challenges mean for our future. 

We’ve received the latest regional updates from the Combatant Commands.  We’ve grappled with significant emerging topics, from cyber to climate change.  We’ve looked to the future of the SPP—where we can go, and how we can grow from here. 

After all, ours is a shared world, and we share its challenges. 

As President Biden wrote in his recent National Security Strategy, “The world is…at an inflection point.   This decade will be decisive, in setting the terms of our competition with the People’s Republic of China, managing the acute threat posed by Russia, and in our efforts to deal with shared challenges—particularly climate change, pandemics, and economic turbulence.

If we do not act with urgency and creativity, our window of opportunity to shape the future of international order and tackle shared challenges will close.” 

That’s what we’re doing here and now.  We are building urgency and creativity.  We are shaping the future of the international order and tackling our shared challenges.  And we are continuing to build enduring relationships that are so important for our shared future.  We continue to build trust. 

That’s important, because—as General Milley noted at dinner last night—you can surge people, and you can surge equipment, but you can’t surge trust. 

I’d add to that you can’t surge respect, and you can’t surge understanding.  They are built incrementally, through shared experiences and shared values.  That’s the State Partnership Program is about.  

These relationships not only improve our nations’ readiness and interoperability—they deepen friendships and understanding.  By working together, learning from each other, exchanging lessons and best practices, we become stronger together.

We are bound by a shared commitment to a more-stable world, and we must stand together against forces that threaten a free, open, rules-based global order. 

We can do this by being good partners—honoring our commitments, sharing our resources, and deepening our cooperation. 

Freedom and democracy are American values—but we cannot uphold them alone. 

Instead, we must tend to our networks, nurture our alliances, and invest in the partnerships that are our enduring strength. 

We have seen great changes in the past 30 years—and we can only predict what the next 30 years will hold.  But we will reinforce our existing partnerships, being smart and selective as we continue to grow.  

Relationships are living things.  They are built on trust, respect, and common interests.  They must be nurtured, cherished, and strengthened for the years to come.  They are our best long-term investment in mutual and global security, and we must honor them accordingly.

That is what we have done here over the past two days.  And that is what we will continue to do. 

Thank you for being part of this historic event.  Here’s to 30 more years—and beyond—of the State Partnership Program.