Dating back to 1993, the National Guard’s State Partnership Program (SPP) started with only 3 Baltic States. The initial objective of the program though was to improve the economic conditions and to give support and facilitate democracy in the Eastern European States devastated under communist law, the SPP developed rapidly and enlarged to a wide range of programs from economic aid to military training and joint exercises, civilian projects and humanitarians assistance.
“Our effort today to broaden and deepen our mutual relations [is] an effort that can make an important contribution to our ultimate goal of a united, free, and peaceful Europe.” elaborated Secretary of Defense Cheney in his speech at NATO Headquarters in Brussels in April 1992.¹
In the course of almost three decades the National Guard (SPP) evolved, has expanded to 82 partnerships in 6 geographic Combatant Commands with 89 nations across the world. In today’s world not only in Europe but also in diverse parts of the world fostering democracy, stability, peace and building security and defense in many ways have been intertwined and connected to the U.S National Guard State Partnership Program.
The Maryland (MD) National Guard is one of the pioneer States’ National Guard that formed the ‘SPP’ with one of the three Baltic countries, Estonia, from the beginning of the program in 1993.
MD National Guard has two State Partnership Programs (SPP) in Europe:
- With Estonia established in 1993
- With Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) since 2003
Both State Partnership Programs have been expanding through years. Just in 2019 the MD National Guard finalized successfully 84 projects, military exercises, events and training with its two SPP partner countries, announced by the National Guard.
“It’s all about sharing our experiences as the National Guard and building trust and confidence in the citizens of their country” expressed Army Maj. Gen. James A. Adkins, Maryland’s adjutant general. ©MD National Guard 2013
“Marylanders are always the consistent face when we need advice or assistance,” said at the seminar. “Whenever we have major challenges, we know that we can always count on our Maryland friends.” explained Estonian Ambassador Vseviov at the MD National Guard leaders assembled at the Dundalk Readiness Center Feb. 2020 ©National Guard/ Maj. Kurt Rauschenberg
At the civilian level, Maryland has additionally 10 partner cities with Estonia (Ref. US Embassy Estonia)
MD National Guard Visit Maryland University of Maryland
Acknowledgments: Image of U.S. Army Gen. Paul E. Funk II, United States Army Training and Doctrine Command commanding general, speaks at the graduation of Class 21-01 from the Maneuver Captains Career Course at the United States Army Maneuver Center of Excellence at Army Base in Columbus, Ga. ©175th WG – Maryland Air National Guard/Master Sgt. Christopher Schepers. April 2021
¹ ©The National Guard State Partnership Program Forging and Maintaining Effective Security Cooperation Partnerships for the 21st Century, page 14. By William B. Boehm. Published by National Guard Bureau office of Public Affairs
By Catherine S. Schmidt, Editor in Chief (Copyrighted material)