State Partnership Directors Share Tips on Adriatic Partnerships

By Lt. Col. Agneta Murnan, 177th Fighter Wing - New Jersey Air National GuardFebruary 28, 2024

U.S. Army and Air National Guard members of the State Partnership Program discuss plans to integrate efforts with Adriatic partner nations at the National Aerospace Research and Technology Park, Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, Jan. 24, 2024. By linking U.S. states with partner countries, the SPP enhances military capabilities and interoperability. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Connor Taggart)
U.S. Army and Air National Guard members of the State Partnership Program discuss plans to integrate efforts with Adriatic partner nations at the National Aerospace Research and Technology Park, Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, Jan. 24, 2024. By linking U.S. states with partner countries, the SPP enhances military capabilities and interoperability. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Connor Taggart) (Photo Credit: Airman 1st Class Connor Taggart) VIEW ORIGINAL

ATLANTIC CITY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.J. - State Partnership Program directors of the state National Guards partnered with the Adriatic charter nations shared best practices during a conference hosted by the New Jersey National Guard at the National Aerospace Research and Technology Park Jan. 23-24.

The New Jersey National Guard is partnered with Albania, the Maryland Guard with Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Minnesota Guard with Croatia, the Maine Guard with Montenegro, and the Vermont Guard with North Macedonia.

“As state National Guard SPP directors, we have worked closely together for years,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Kevin Murphy, New Jersey SPP director. “It’s rare, though, that we can all get into the same room to share best practices and discuss how we can support each other.”

U.S. Army Maj. Patrick Enriquez, Vermont SPP director, described a Western Balkans regional cybersecurity exercise as an example of the programs’ interoperability.

“There are certainly times in a region like the Adriatic five region or the Balkans where we can pool resources, we can leverage one another’s expertise, and in many cases, create multilateral events to support strategic priorities for the combatant command,” said Enriquez.

“We’re trying to integrate our efforts for better efficiency, getting more done with less,” Murphy said. “We’re trying to get after it ourselves and do some integration before we get into the very, very big exercises.”

One of the large-scale exercises ahead includes U.S. European Command’s “DEFENDER-Europe 2025.”

“Being able to collaborate and speak to other SPP directors that have been doing the job, getting their best practices, is very, very helpful,” said U.S. Army Maj. Elise Dent, incoming SPP director for Maryland.

Murphy said he hopes to continue the conference annually, rotating between A-5 partner states. This would include Ohio and Iowa National Guard representatives, who are partners with the A-5 observer states Serbia and Kosovo, respectively, and could not attend this year due to scheduling conflicts.

The Department of Defense State Partnership Program is managed and administered by the National Guard Bureau. It supports the security cooperation objectives of the United States and the geographic combatant commands by developing enduring relationships with partner countries and carrying out activities to build partner capacity, improve interoperability, and enhance U.S. access and influence while increasing the readiness of U.S. and partner forces.

The program began in 1993 with 13 partners and has grown to 100 partner nations.

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