Boosting State Partnerships in Africa, Europe

US Africa Command boss Army Gen. Carter Ham and US European Command head Adm. James Stavridis told lawmakers last week that the National Guard’s State Partnership Program offers the United States the “biggest bang” for the buck in their respective areas of responsibility. There already are eight such partnerships throughout Africa, but none are yet established with partner nations along the African east coast, said Ham in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee on March 15. However, that could change shortly, he said. “We’ve had some discussions with some East African countries and I think we’re close to having a few more [partnerships],” he said. In fact, the National Guard Bureau chief already is working with state adjutant generals to determine what Guard units could potentially take on new partnerships, said Ham. It’s also likely that dual partnerships between a Guard unit and counterparts in both Africa and Europe could increase in the future, said both officials. Stavridis, at the same hearing, called the Guard partnerships “one of the best things going.” (Ham’s prepared testimony) (Stavridis’ written statement) (See also Building a Larger Guard Role in Africa.)