National Guard State Partnership Program Enhancement Actby Representative Madeleine Z. Bordallo
Posted on 2013-02-13
in the house of representatives
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Ms. BORDALLO. Mr. Speaker, today I have introduced the National Guard
State Partnership Program, SPP, Enhancement Act which strengthens and
expands this critical capacity building program. The National Guard
provides unique capacity building capabilities to Combatant Commanders
and U.S. Ambassadors via 65 comprehensive partnerships between National
Guard units across the United States and partner nations. The SPP
directly supports the broad national interests and security cooperation
goals of the United States by engaging partner nations via military,
sociopolitical, and economic conduits at the local, state, and national
levels. The program's public diplomacy effectiveness lies in its
ability to leverage the full breadth and depth of U.S. defense and
interagency capabilities from within the state-country relationship.
The goals of the program reflect an evolving international affairs mission for the National Guard emphasizing its unique state-federal and civil-military characteristics to interact with both the active and reserve forces of foreign nations, interagency partners, and international nongovernmental organizations. The value of the SPP lies in its ability to concentrate a small component of the U.S. defense structure--a state's National Guard--on a single country or region in support of U.S. Government policies and objectives. This concentrated focus supports the development of long term personal relationships and interagency coordination mechanisms that would not otherwise exist.
The SPP has the potential of being increasingly more important tool for Combatant Commanders and U.S. Ambassadors in achieving long-term US objectives. The program has developed from assistance and partnership with primarily Eastern European nations to a program that supports all the non-CONUS combatant commanders. Of particular interest to me are the opportunities that SPP poses for our rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region. I believe the SPP brings unique capabilities to US Pacific Command in expanding and strengthening bilateral relations with many Asian and Pacific nations. The program can help to demonstrate the U.S. commitment to the region and our allies.
The bill I introduce today helps the SPP by codifying the program's use of funding and spells out the roles that National Guard units can play in their capacity building. The legislation is needed to ensure the program meets its intended goals. The legislation first establishes the process through which funds appropriated to the National Guard may be used to support the program's goals. This is merely a codification of Department of Defense guidance and National Guard Bureau process. Additionally, the legislation outlines the mechanism through which partnerships may be requested and approved. The bill ensures that Department of Defense, a state National Guard and Department of State's equities are considered in the context of broader program goals. Finally, the legislation expands the roles that a National Guard may perform when in support of the State Partnership Program. The capabilities and missions outlined in this legislation leverage the very unique capabilities inherit in the National Guard which would strengthen our relations with allies and nations across the globe. The dual role of the National Guard provides them a unique opportunity to support Combatant Commander as well as an Ambassadors needs in a given country. I believe this legislation is necessary to codify current practices and enhance the program's positive impact.
Finally, I would note that a version of this legislation passed by voice vote, last year, during consideration of amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013. The program has broad support in Congress and I urge my colleagues to support this measure.