NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – National Guard members, senior leaders and leaders from partner nations worldwide came together this week to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Department of Defense National Guard State Partnership Program.
The SPP, which pairs Guard elements with partner nations worldwide, has forged enduring connections while helping to build U.S. and partner capabilities to meet ever-changing security challenges.
“Today’s global threats and challenges impact every single country on the earth, even those that are not yet, and I stress the yet, members of the SPP partnership,” said Air Force Lt. Gen. Dan Caine, associate director for military affairs with the Central Intelligence Agency, who spoke during the SPP 30th Anniversary Conference.
The SPP has enhanced the readiness needed to respond to any potential challenge in any region worldwide, he said.
“When difficult things like flooding or earthquakes or other natural or manufactured disasters happen, it is the SPP partnership that often comes to the rescue,” said Cain, adding that the connections made through the partnership makes it easier to reach out when assistance is needed.
Cain compared the security environment today to what it was 30 years ago, in the aftermath of the Cold War when the world was experiencing unique and unprecedented turmoil. He said that change is constant, rapid, and widespread, and the world is at a similar inflection point.
Caine classifies the present global threats and challenges into three distinct categories. The first category Caine describes as “problems without passports,” referring to issues that surpass national borders in scale and complexity, making it impossible for any single country to resolve. Examples include climate change, global pandemics, and vicious transnational organizations. The second category is characterized by the new and dynamic challenges arising from the ongoing technological revolution, encompassing cyber attacks, autonomous disinformation, and other manifestations. The third category represents direct challenges to the established international order, as most recently evidenced in Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
“The shared challenges that we face will test every element of our friendship and our partnership, from diplomacy to intelligence to our militaries, to our economies,” he said.
Cain warned that threats to shared ideals of peaceful political and economic sovereignty and security would likely intensify over the next decade and challenge many, but he sees hope through the SPP.
“There is a solution, and the answer is all of us working together towards providing a greater future for our respective countries,” he said. “This gathering represents an extraordinary number of diverse partnerships. And through these partnerships, we can meet these global challenges and threats.”
And it was similar ideas that set the SPP in motion 30 years ago.
“We’re all thankful for the National Guard State Partnership Program, founded 30 years ago by some of the great leaders within this room, said Cain. “We’ve learned so much from each other. And this is, frankly, where the SPP is unrivaled.”