An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Vermont National Guard Logo News
Articles
News | Jan. 30, 2019

Lengyel: National Guard committed to 'long game' with SPP

By Sgt. 1st Class Jim Greenhill National Guard Bureau

The National Guard takes a long-term view of its partnerships with more than one-third of the world’s countries, Air Force Gen. Joseph Lengyel said during visits to three countries in the Western Balkans this week.

“We’re in this for the long game,” the chief of the National Guard Bureau told host country leaders during stops in Macedonia, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Lengyel’s mission: Strengthen the enduring State Partnership Program (SPP) relationships and underscore the USA’s commitment to the region’s security and stability.

Founded in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union more than a quarter-century ago, the SPP has steadily grown, from a handful of countries in the former Eastern Bloc to 83 in every geographic combatant command and on every continent except Antarctica.

The program pairs the National Guard in the states and territories and the District of Columbia with a foreign partner. Some states have more than one partner. It strengthens national security, including by contributing to the National Defense Strategy goal of building partnerships.

Macedonia is paired with the Vermont National Guard, Albania with the New Jersey National Guard, and Bosnia and Herzegovina with the Maryland National Guard. The Balkan region falls within the U.S. European Command area of responsibility. The SPP supports combatant commander objectives.

“These partnerships contribute to the power and capability of both the host country and the National Guard,” Lengyel said.

Both China and Russia are increasing efforts to exert influence in the Balkans. Cyber has emerged as a new domain. And the region’s countries are all striving to improve responses to disasters such as wildfires, floods and earthquakes.

“The only way to get at the challenges we face is to become stronger as partners, as allies, and as friends,” Lengyel told one group of military officers during a stop on his visit. The general and Army Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher Kepner, senior enlisted advisor, met with key leaders and host nation and U.S. troops during the trip and saw demonstrations of host country military capabilities.

Among examples of the SPP's impact in the Western Balkans:

  • Helped Albania become a NATO member, strengthening the alliance – and Lengyel expressed the USA’s support for both Macedonia’s and Bosnia and Herzegovina’s continued progress along the path to NATO membership.
  • 5,000 members of the Army of the Republic of Macedonia have taken part in joint activities with U.S. troops. All three countries have seen hundreds of troops take part in dozens of small- to large-scale events, ranging from a dozen noncommissioned officers exchanging best practices to a thousand troops or more conducting joint training.
  • All three nations have co-deployed to places such as Afghanistan and Iraq with U.S. troops, strengthening coalition forces and demonstrating international resolve.
  • The nations have transitioned from being security consumers to security providers – for example, donating weapons and ammunition to coalition partners defeating ISIS.
  • About 1,600 Pennsylvania National Guard members are scheduled to join a joint exercise with Macedonian troops this year.

The primary reserve of the Army and the Air Force, the National Guard comprises about 25 percent of all personnel serving in the Armed Forces. The National Guard supports the National Defense Strategy by fighting America’s wars, securing the homeland and building enduring partnerships. About 30,000 Guard members are deployed worldwide today; about 10,000 are supporting domestic missions.

Lengyel is the 28th Chief of the National Guard Bureau and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He ensures the 450,000 Army and Air National Guard Soldiers and Airmen are accessible, capable and ready to protect the homeland and to provide combat forces to the Army and the Air Force.

The most senior enlisted member of the National Guard, Kepner is the chief’s principal military advisor on all enlisted matters affecting training, utilization, health of the force, and enlisted professional development.

National Guard News
From left, Command Sgt. Maj. Eric Binstock, North Dakota Army National Guard state command sergeant major; 2nd Lt. Denis Duku, 426th Signal Company; Maj. Gen. Al Dohrmann, adjutant general; Maj. Beth Simek, North Dakota bilateral affairs officer for Ghana; Lt. Col. Jarrod Simek, U.S. Special Operations Command Africa, and Lt. Col. Mark McEvers take a photo at the 20th-anniversary celebration of North Dakota and the Republic of Ghana's partnership in the State Partnership Program, Feb. 22, 2024, in Accra, Ghana. North Dakota and Ghana are one of 18 partnerships in Africa.
North Dakota National Guard Celebrates 20-year Ghana Partnership
By Sgt. Michaela Granger, | Feb. 23, 2024
ACCRA, Ghana – The North Dakota National Guard celebrated its 20-year partnership with Ghana in the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program Feb. 22.The partnership, the third-oldest in Africa,...

Air National Guard security forces participate in a mass casualty event at the PATRIOT 24 exercise at Combined Arms Collective Training Facility, Camp Shelby, Mississippi, Feb. 19, 2024. The disaster-response training exercise was conducted by National Guard units working with federal, state and local emergency management agencies and first responders.
National Guard Conducts Patriot Exercise in Mississippi
By Maj. Sabrina Dalton, | Feb. 22, 2024
CAMP SHELBY, Miss. – The National Guard conducted a disaster readiness exercise with state and county emergency management agencies and industry partners Feb. 18-22.PATRIOT is a joint, interagency exercise sponsored by the...

Randy Kee, director of the Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies, speaks with Col. T. Galbadrakh, deputy chief of the General Staff of the Mongolian Armed Forces, during a visit to the center on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Feb. 14, 2024. Galbadrakh's visit, coordinated through the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program, underscores the program's evolution into a vital instrument for bolstering U.S. security cooperation on the global stage.
Mongolian Colonel Visits Arctic Security Center, Alaska Partners
By Amber Kurka, | Feb. 22, 2024
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska - Col. T. Galbadrakh, deputy chief of the General Staff of the Mongolian Armed Forces, visited the Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies Feb. 14 in a step toward increased...

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Erik Ponzek, left, commander of 2-112th Infantry, and Command Sgt. Maj. Jason Barclay, 2-112th Infantry senior enlisted leader, unfurl their unit's colors during a transfer of authority ceremony at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Feb. 10, 2024. This act represented Pennsylvania National Guard's Task Force Paxton assuming control over the SECFOR unit in CJTF-HOA.
Pennsylvania Guard Takes Over Horn of Africa Security Mission
By Sgt. Jalen Miller, | Feb. 21, 2024
CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti – The Pennsylvania National Guard’s Task Force Paxton assumed control over the security mission in East Africa from Task Force Tomahawk during a Feb. 10 transfer of authority ceremony.Task Force...

Airmen assigned to the 139th Airlift Wing, Missouri Air National Guard, refuel a C-130H Hercules aircraft Feb. 13, 2024, at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base, St. Joseph, Missouri. Aircrews conducted a 41-hour sortie in which the aircraft engines ran continuously for 45 hours and the aircraft was refueled three times.
Missouri Guard’s 139th Airlift Wing Executes 41-hour Sortie
By Michael Crane, | Feb. 20, 2024
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. - The 139th Airlift Wing has set a new milestone by pushing the boundaries of the C-130H Hercules aircraft. From Feb. 13-15, multiple aircrews flew a mission in which the aircraft’s cumulative flight time was...