STUTTGART, Germany - The U.S. European Command kicked-off the bi-annual State Partnership Program Conference here June 15.

The 3-day conference will highlight many new initiatives to include SPP partners co-deploying to Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, and include interactive workshops that transform SPP to the next level to ensure it provides comprehensive support for EUCOM's Strategy of Active Security. This transformation includes integrating state agencies to full-spectrum engagement to enhance civil security and increased partner capacity building efforts.

"SPP is one of the most critical tools available to EUCOM," said Brig. Gen. Jeffery Marshall, Director, Mobilization and Reserve Component Affairs. "Right now, SPP accounts for more than 40 percent of all military-to-military engagement in EUCOM."

The SPP links the National Guard to a partner nation for the purpose of supporting the theater security cooperation objectives of USEUCOM. The program features the role of the National Guard as an all-volunteer, professional military with dual missions to support the nation and the state. There are currently 21 SPP relationships in the USEUCOM AOR.

"With new funding for civil security engagements, SPP is more important to EUCOM than ever," Marshall said. "We're working with the total EUCOM team to develop effective programs that bring a comprehensive approach to help our partners build security and stability in Europe and Eurasia.

"These programs will enhance our already robust military engagements and assist our partners in not only strengthening security and stability in the region, as well as deploying capabilities to other regions where appropriate," Marshall added. "The new capabilities in SPP will add significant new dimensions to EUCOM's capacity building programs."