News: North Dakota and Ghana reach 10-year milestone through State Partnership Program
BISMARCK, N.D. - Ten years of collaborating and building relationships within the framework of the National Guard Bureau's State Partnership Program (SPP) have brought together more than 450 Soldiers, Airmen and North Dakota government and civilian agency personnel with their Ghanaian counterparts. Today, state leaders and dignitaries from the African nation of Ghana celebrated a decade-long partnership in the Memorial Hall of the North Dakota State Capitol Building.
The purpose of the SPP is to foster mutual interests and establish habitual long-term relationships across all levels of society. The program as a whole encourages the development of economic, political and military ties between the states and partner nations.
In 2004, North Dakota and Ghana's SPP began with a number of military to military engagements between the North Dakota National Guard and the Ghanaian armed forces. Personnel exchanges between the two locations have included combat engineers, military police, public affairs, air force maintenance and operations and family programs. The partnership now has broadened to include a number of civilian agencies, such as Bismarck State College, Minot State University, Sanford Health and the N.D. Department of Health.
"We are honored to welcome representatives from the Republic of Ghana to North Dakota to commemorate 10 years of collaboration and interaction between their country and our state," said Gov. Jack Dalrymple. "This decade-long partnership has been successful for both Ghana and North Dakota, strengthening relationships and expanding military, civilian and business partnerships."
The Ghanaian guests included Vice Adm. Mathew Quashie, the Ghanaian armed forces chief of the Defence Staff, and Brig. Gen. Seidu Mumuni Adams, Ghana's defense, military, naval and air attaché to the U.S. and Canada. The group arrived Wednesday for a weeklong visit to North Dakota to tour National Guard facilities and state landmarks.
Yesterday, they traveled to the Camp Grafton Training Center near Devils Lake, N.D., to see the 164th Regiment's Regional Training Institute building, where Army engineer Soldiers from across the U.S. attend training for military occupational skills and noncommissioned officer leadership. The Ghanaians also visited the Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.
After today's 10th anniversary celebration, the tour will resume with visits to the N.D. National Guard's Military Service Center and the N.D. Department of Emergency Services in Bismarck, as well as the N.D. Heritage Center. On Saturday, during a "Hometown Heroes" event, the group will help honor Airmen from the N.D. Air National Guard's 119th Wing who have served on active-duty orders over the last two years in support of missions around the globe.
In January, North Dakota Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley and Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general, attended a similar anniversary celebration in Ghana, where they visited with Ghanaian officials and discussed the partnership's future endeavors.
"We are excited to have our Ghanaian partners here this week in North Dakota to help celebrate our successes, achievements and shared milestones. After 10 years of supporting one another through our State Partnership Program, we have shared expertise over the course of more than 135 exchanges and events," Sprynczynatyk said. "But, even more importantly, we've developed cherished friendships. North Dakotans and Ghanaians share a lot of the same values. We love our families and neighbors, and are committed to building better lives for those in our communities. We've learned from one another over the years, and will continue that cooperation and support long into the future."
One goal of the SPP is to demonstrate to partner countries how a National Guard organization interacts with its citizens and civilian agencies, particularly during emergency response and disaster operations. In 2013, North Dakota's SPP developed and initiated its Disaster Planning and Preparedness Program, which was designed to enhance the capacity of African nations like Ghana to mitigate, prepare for and respond to disasters. To augment the program, the N.D. National Guard has partnered with additional North Dakota civilian agencies, including the N.D. Department of Health and N.D. Department of Emergency Services.
North Dakota recently broadened its participation in the SPP by signing formal partnership agreements with the Republic of Benin and the Togolese Republic.
At the national level, the SPP has successfully built relationships between the U.S. and nations around the globe for more than 20 years. It began in 1993, with three Baltic nations. With the inclusion of Benin and Togo, the SPP now includes 68 unique security partnerships.