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Home : News : State Partnership Program
NEWS | March 7, 2024

West Virginia National Guard, Gabon Announce State Partnership

By National Guard Bureau

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia National Guard has been selected as the U.S. partner to the nation of Gabon in central Africa for the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program, Gov. Jim Justice announced March 6. 

Gabon is the 19th African nation to join with a U.S. state via the SPP. Through the partnership with Gabon, the WVNG will seek to increase military and diplomatic cooperation, develop and expand defense capabilities and create mutually beneficial training. The two entities will work to increase interoperability of forces and promote regional stability.

“I’m thrilled to announce this groundbreaking partnership with Gabon because it’s a testament to our National Guard’s influence and ability to contribute to global security,” Justice said in a news release. 

The West Virginia Guard is also partners with Peru and Qatar.

“I am incredibly honored that our West Virginia National Guard has been selected to partner with Gabon through the SPP and will have the opportunity to address regional challenges and strategic imperatives in Africa in coordination with our Gabonese partners,” said Maj. Gen. Bill Crane, adjutant general of the West Virginia National Guard. “We have a clearly demonstrated track record of our ability to provide mutually beneficially training and engagements through our Peruvian and Qatari relationships, and I have no doubt that we will see an enduring and fruitful partnership with Gabon.”

The State Partnership Program began in 1993 with 13 partners and, over three decades, has grown to include 100 nations. The program is a key U.S. security cooperation tool that facilitates collaboration across all aspects of civil-military affairs, broadening the pool of security partners supporting defense and security cooperation objectives around the world.

Sen. Joe Manchin said the West Virginia National Guard was chosen to partner with Gabon due to its success with their other two partners.

“I have no doubt that Gabon will also be positively influenced by the expertise of our Guardsmen and women, and that this relationship will serve as a foundation to further increase the cooperation between our nations,” Manchin said.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito said she was “pleased to hear that another state partner will be able to benefit from their skill set.” 

The West Virginia - Gabon partnership will focus on key leader engagements, noncommissioned officer professional development, basic Soldier skills instruction, aviation maintenance training, disaster preparedness and response, and military civil engineering.

Gabon is located along the Atlantic Ocean on the African continent. Approximately four times the size of West Virginia, Gabon has about the same number of people as the Mountain State and a military similar to that of the WVNG. The nation is primarily rural and forested and economically relies heavily on fossil fuel extraction.

Since 1996, West Virginia and Peru have partnered for more than 200 engagements, particularly in counterinsurgency, anti-terrorism, emergency preparedness, disaster response and recovery.​ Since 2018, West Virginia and Qatar have partnered for numerous anti-terrorism and professional development engagements, including working closely during the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.