Issues & Advocacy

Issue: Expand State Partnership Program

The State Partnership Program (SPP) has been building relationships for over 20 years with 68 unique security partnerships in 74 nations around the globe.  The unique dual nature of the National Guard places SPP at the crossroads of diplomacy and defense, and embodies the widely accepted “smart power” approach to United States foreign policy.

Issue Overview 

The National Guard State Partnership Program (SPP) is one of the most innovative low-cost security cooperation tools available to the United States. SPP has marked its 20th year of successfully building relationships that today include 68 partnerships involving 74 nations around the globe. In addition to military-to-military engagements, SPP leverages the whole-of-society relations and capabilities to facilitate broader interagency and whole-of-government engagements. The unique dual nature of the National Guard places SPP at the crossroads of diplomacy and defense, and embodies the widely accepted “smart power” approach to United States foreign policy. Activities are coordinated through combatant commanders, chiefs of mission and other agencies as appropriate to ensure National Guard operations are tailored to meet both U.S. and partner country objectives.

SPP is currently administered by the National Guard Bureau and executed by the state adjutants general.  Because members of the National Guard remain in the states over long periods of time, pairing states with partner countries provides a consistent, enduring and genuine presence through professional, personal and institutional relationships that span continents and decades. Some partnerships have grown so close that the partner country prefers to deploy on operational missions with its National Guard state partners. 

What's At Stake

The scope, magnitude, strength and benefits of the relationships created by the National Guard State Partnership Program are not well known because of the number of federal and state entities that have tasked the National Guard to conduct operations, and the lack of understanding the totality of what has been accomplished.

In the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2014, Congress codified the State Partnership Program for the first time. This law required the defense secretary and the secretary of state to review each program in the SPP and for the DoD to become the administrator of the program, and issue regulations to carry out the new law.  A report on National Guard SSP operations to Congress in January 2015 will include every country, activity, extent of participation and summary of expenditures so that for the first time, Congress will be able to see the extent and content of the program’s operations, and build its long-term success for the future. The current law expires at the end of Fiscal Year 2016, and the reauthorization language will need to be modified to reflect the real nature of military-to-military and military-to-civilian relationships and activities being conducted.

NGAUS supports:

  • Permanent authorization of the National Guard State Partnership Program
  • Aligning the program under national global partnership strategies and making it a DoD-wide program of record
  • Increasing the participation of the State Department in defining military-to-civilian operations, the role of chiefs of mission, and expanded use of the National Guard in performing these missions
  • Including governors and adjutant generals in the development of DoD and State Department policies, directives and instructions defining program activities
  • Establishing fiscal accountability and program oversight by the creation of capability-based operations and a dedicated Department of Defense and/or State Department joint funding stream for all personnel, training and operations of the program
  • Expanding the number and types of partnerships across the globe