GRAYLING, Mich. – The State Partnership Program (SPP) has been
successfully building relationships between 74 nations for over 20
years. During Operation Northern Strike at Camp Grayling, the
partnerships continued to grow as service members from Latvia,
Lithuania, Canada and the U.S. got together to show the world that
together they can be a formidable team.
Joint Terminal Attack Controllers
(JTAC) from Latvia, Illinois, North Carolina and Michigan that are a
part of the state partnership program worked together to direct air
strikes to simulate suppressing the enemy with pinpoint accuracy
during Operation Northern Strike at Grayling Air Gunnery Range in
August 2014. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Boyd, August 13,
The SPP links a component of a state's National Guard
with the armed forces or equivalent of a partner country in
a cooperative, mutually beneficial relationship.
National Guard conducts training such as Operation Northern
Strike in support of defense security goals, but also uses
the relationships and capabilities to promote interagency
and engagements that span military, government, economic and
Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTAC) from Latvia,
Illinois, North Carolina and other units that are a part of
the state partnership program worked together to direct air
strikes to simulate suppressing the enemy with pinpoint
accuracy during Operation Northern Strike at Grayling Air
Gunnery Range in August 2014.
“This training is
important, it gives us the opportunity to work with other
nations, and learn new skill sets and also pass on some of
our knowledge to the soldiers from other countries. We get
to train in real world situations with our counterparts from
other nations,” said Sgt. Janis Savickis, JTAC, Latvian
The SPP evolved from a 1991 U.S.
European Command decision to set up the Joint Contact Team
Program in the Baltic Region with Reserve component Soldiers
and Airmen. A subsequent National Guard Bureau proposal
paired U.S. states with three nations from the former Soviet
Union and the SPP was created, and became a key U.S.
security tool that facilitates cooperation across
international civil-military affairs and encouraging
people-to-people ties at the state level.
program has subsequently evolved to assist with nations in
Africa Such as Liberia which now also has a state
partnership with Michigan. The Liberian-Michigan partnership
is in its fourth year. Michigan was one of the first three
states chosen to enter into the State Partnership Program
when partnered with Latvia in 1993.
According to the
National Guard Bureau's SPP website, the State Partnership
Program "Is becoming a key U.S. security cooperation tool,
facilitating cooperation across all aspects of international
civil-military affairs and encouraging people-to-people ties
at the state level."
By U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jason Boyd
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