LOME, Togo - For the second time in two days, the North Dakota National Guard has formalized a partnership with a west African nation. Today's signing ceremony officially affiliates the North Dakota National Guard and the Togolese Republic as a component of the National Guard Bureau's State Partnership Program. The ceremony took place at the military headquarters in the capital city of Lome, April 4, 2014.
Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general, co-signed the partnership with Brig. Gen. Abalo Kadangha, chief of Defense Staff of the Togolese Armed Forces.
"Our National Guard, through the State Partnership Program, is committed to strengthening the friendship between Togo and the United States," Sprynczynatyk said during the ceremony. "It is my privilege to sign this agreement which is intended to be both cooperative and mutually beneficial to our countries."
In a private conversation after the ceremony, Kadangha compared the partnership to a marriage in African culture.
"When a young woman marries a man from a neighboring village in Africa, it strengthens the bond between the villages and the people there. This is our hope for this partnership with the North Dakota National Guard," he said.
This agreement marks the beginning of a military-to-military partnership and elevates North Dakota as the first state to enter in to partnerships with multiple neighboring countries in what has become known as a regionalization concept. Togo is centered between the nations of Ghana and the Republic of Benin, both of which are partner countries with North Dakota.
A reception following the ceremony was where attendees enjoyed local food and exchanged gifts. Sprynczynatyk presented a North Dakota state flag to the Togolese military leaders.
"We will hang it up where everyone can see it," Kadangha added.
A State Partnership Program agreement was signed yesterday with Benin and North Dakota is currently celebrating its 10-year partnership with Ghana.
The three partner nations will present opportunities for joint, multilateral engagements that can be beneficial in providing valuable training for the North Dakota National Guard. Soldiers and Airmen working with Ghanaian, Beninese, and Togolese officials will demonstrate how military organizations can interact with citizens and their government, while reinforcing the concept that the military is subordinate to its respective nation's civil authorities. The State Partnership Program links a unique component of the Department of Defense, a state's National Guard, with the armed forces or equivalent of a partner country in a cooperative, mutually beneficial relationship.
At the national level, the SPP is in its 20th year of successfully building relationships between the United States and nations around the globe. With the inclusion of Benin and Togo, the SPP includes 68 unique security partnerships.