The State Partnership Program helps U.S. military and civilian officials train, coordinate with foreign security forces

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) introduced bipartisan legislation to reauthorize and strengthen the National Guard State Partnership Program (SPP).  The State Partnership Program Enhancement Act of 2015, which has a corresponding bill in the House of Representatives, will permanently codify the SPP into law, increase transparency and oversight, and address deficits in funding, coordination, and reporting.

“This bill will improve the Program and consequently our relationships around the world, including the special partnership that Vermont shares with Macedonia and Senegal,” said Senator Leahy, co-chair of the Senate National Guard Caucus.  “Through streamlined funding and improved coordination our Guard will have the tools they need to execute their tasks more efficiently. They and our regional commanders in the field deserve to have the program made to work better for their practical, on-the-ground needs.”

“For more than 20 years, the State Partnership Program has advanced American interests around the world, strengthened our national security, and supported the military capacity of our allies,” said Senator Coons.  “Aside from building critical and durable relationships with important allies, the SPP serves as a prime example of America’s commitment to peace and good government around the world.  As a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, I have seen the benefits of this program firsthand on many of my trips abroad, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to improve and extend this vital program.”

“The State Partnership Program Enhancement Act is an important step forward for the National Guard’s valued relationship building program that encourages increased collaboration with our allies in support of defense security goals,” said Senator Ernst. “This legislation streamlines the SPP’s process – including ending multi-track funding streams – to make this important program more effective, efficient and ensure its long and successful future.”

The SPP is a broadly supported, 22 year old program that is designed to promote American interests abroad by establishing cooperative relationships with foreign security forces and other government agencies to provide military-to-military and military-to-civilian training. The SPP takes advantage of the diverse skill sets of the men and women of the National Guard, who serve the United States as civilians, soldiers, airmen to meet unique U.S. security cooperation goals in countries around the world. In the long-term, it provides Combatant Commanders and Ambassadors with capabilities to achieve U.S. objectives and further demonstrates a commitment to building partner capacity abroad.

The State Partnership Program Enhancement Act of 2015 would reauthorize the SPP, which is due to expire in September 2016.  The bipartisan bill would also improve the program by enhancing reporting requirements, consolidating arcane funding mechanisms, and increasing cooperation between the Guard, the State Department, and our allies.

Other co-sponsors include: U.S. Senators Shelly Capito (R-WV), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Gary Peters (D-MI), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Patrick Toomey (R-PA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

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