National Guard State Partnership Program
“The State Partnership Program is, dollar for dollar, my best EUCOM investment.”
– ADM Stavridis, EUCOM Commander
The EUCOM State Partnership Program (SPP), a component of the larger National Guard program, partners U.S. states with European countries to support the command’s security cooperation objectives. The EUCOM program is a component of the global SPP, which assists the Theater Security Cooperation program of each of the six U.S. geographic Combatant Commands. Currently, 22 partnerships exist with former Soviet, Yugoslav and Warsaw Pact countries in the EUCOM Area of Responsibility.
The EUCOM Program
EUCOM’s SPP is the largest and longest-running program using military-to-military (M2M) relationships to enhance long-term international security while building partnership capacity. All SPP activities support EUCOM's Theater Campaign Plan, Strategy for Active Security, Lines of Activity (LOAs) and individual U.S. embassy mission plans.
EUCOM SPP goals span military, political, economic and social realms and are characterized by building enduring personal relationships. The program features scalable cooperative activities via local, state and national conduits as it opens doors to the full depth and breadth of U.S. capabilities.
In a 2010 survey of Ambassadors to EUCOM SPP nations:
- 6 said SPP is their most significant program
- 14 said SPP is a significant program that adequately supports their objectives
- 1 said SPP adequately supports their objectives, but would like to see increased engagements
In a similar survey of EUCOM SPP Adjutants General:
- 8 said SPP exceeded their requirements
- 10 said SPP met their requirements
- 3 said SPP needed improvement (due to resourcing and policy issues)
- Alabama / Romania (1993)
- California / Ukraine (1993)
- Colorado / Slovenia (1993)
- Georgia / Georgia (1994)
- Illinois / Poland (1993)
- Indiana / Slovakia (1994)
- Iowa / Kosovo (2011)
- Kansas / Armenia (2003)
- Maine / Montenegro (2006)
- Maryland / Estonia (1993)
- Maryland / Bosnia and Herzegovina (2003)
- Michigan / Latvia (1993)
- Minnesota / Croatia (1996)
- New Jersey / Albania (2001)
- North Carolina / Moldova (1996)
- Ohio / Hungary (1993)
- Ohio / Serbia (2005)
- Oklahoma / Azerbaijan (2002)
- Pennsylvania / Lithuania (1993)
- Tennessee / Bulgaria (1993)
- Texas, Nebraska / Czech Republic (1993)
- Vermont / Macedonia (1993)
The National Program
The program was originally created to minimize instability and encourage democracy in the former Soviet bloc nations after the collapse of the Soviet Union; today, SPP continues to be one of the National Guard’s most effective security cooperation programs.
SPP links U.S. states with partner countries around the world to promote access, increase military capability, improve interoperability and enhance the principles of responsible governance. Rather than U.S. soldiers training other nations’ soldiers, partnership events involve the sharing of concepts, ideas and lessons learned.
SPP’s success provides tremendous relationship and capacity building with partner nations at an extremely low price. The number of co-deployments between states and their partner countries to Afghanistan and Iraq is a testament to the program’s value; most coalition forces in OEF and OIF come from SPP countries. SPP is a critical tool for interagency and comprehensive joint engagements.
The National Guard's dual federal and state missions make SPP an ideal vehicle to demonstrate effective democratic institutions, promote democratic values and share best practices to help partner countries achieve their goals. The unique civil-military nature of the National Guard allows the SPP to engage in a wide range of Security Cooperation activities, such as:
- Disaster Preparedness
- Humanitarian Assistance
- Defense Support of Civil Authorities
- Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear
- Reserve Component Reform
- Border/Port Security
- Public/Private Partnerships
The SPP’s value is demonstrated by its ability to directly support the broad U.S. national interests and international security cooperation goals by engaging partner nations through military, socio-political and economic conduits at the local, state and national levels. The program’s public diplomacy effectiveness lies in its ability to leverage the full breadth and depth of U.S. defense and interagency capabilities from within the state-country relationship. The SPP also serves as an avenue to promote American values by freely exchanging ideas with partner nations and by reinforcing the common pursuit of security, stability and democracy.
As the Soviet Union disintegrated between 1989 and 1991, U.S. government officials explored options to minimize instability and encourage democratic governments in the former Soviet bloc nations. One effort to address these policy goals was to expand M2M contacts with the newly independent central and eastern European countries to promote subordination to civilian leadership, respect for human rights and a defensively-oriented military posture. At the time, most of these newly independent states had militaries that were based on the Soviet model focused on countering NATO threat .
A request from the Latvian government for help in developing a military based on the National Guard’s citizen-soldier model sparked the program. Army Gen. Colin Powell, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs at the time, and Army Gen. John Shalikashvili, then EUCOM commander, embraced the concept as a way to build partnerships with non-NATO countries in the region as they established democratic governments and market economies.
EUCOM took the lead in this effort by establishing the Joint Contact Team Program (JCTP) in 1992. The JCTP was originally composed of active component personnel and included members of the special forces because of their language skills. However, when the JCTP began to engage the Baltic nations of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, senior defense officials insisted that National Guard and Reserve personnel play a leading role in any military liaison teams operating in those countries, apparently in response to those governments’ desire to establish reserve-centric defense establishments and to assuage Russian concerns about U.S. expansion in the region.
Lt. Gen. John Conaway, the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, and Brig. Gen. Thomas Lennon, head of the JCTP, visited the Baltics in November 1992 and soon thereafter the National Guard initiated the first state partnerships: Maryland-Estonia, Michigan-Latvia and Pennsylvania-Lithuania. Additional partnerships were proposed later in 1993 for Albania, Belarus, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Romania, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine. The SPP assisted the JCTP by providing additional personnel, funding and access to military personnel from U.S. ethnic-heritage communities who often had relevant language and cultural skills.
Today, 50 U.S. States, two territories and the District of Columbia are partnered with more than 60 countries around the world. Two bilateral relationships also exist: NGB-Israel and Minnesota-Norway.
For more news on the State Partnership Program please see the National Guard State Partnership Program news archives.