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House Members Ask for State Partnership Program Review

Washington Report

Two members of the House of Representatives are asking for an independent review of the National Guard’s State Partnership Program.

Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., and Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., are requesting the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, to provide an updated strategic assessment of the program.

The goal, they said, is “to ensure its objectives are being advanced and that the current framework is effectively supporting the U.S. National Defense Strategy.”

Womack is a retired Army colonel who served for 30 years in the Arkansas National Guard.

SPP is a long-running, Guard-led initiative that pairs states with allies and partner militaries from around the globe. It began with states partnering with former Soviet Bloc nations and has since grown, nearly three decades later, to include 82 partnerships.

The representatives said SPP has not undergone a comprehensive study since 2012. They call for an analysis of several different metrics, including objectives, milestones and performance, as well as a review of current partnerships.

They are also asking for an assessment of whether the National Guard Bureau has sufficient resources to ensure proper program direction, if resourcing has kept pace with the growth of the program, and if there are enough full-time Guard officers serving in the U.S. embassies of partner nations.

“The State Partnership Program has proven to be a strong and cost-effective initiative that has advanced American national security interests for decades,” Womack and Ruppersberger wrote. “We must keep it that way. With today’s ever-evolving threat landscape — including growing competition from China and Russia — this evaluation will provide recommendations to ensure the SPP is best equipped to confront the challenges we face as a nation.”

The representatives ask that such a report be provided no later than Jan. 15, 2021.