Guard Partnerships Pay ‘Huge Dividends’

Guard Partnerships Pay ‘Huge Dividends’

US and Ukraine soldiers train together
Photo by: U.S. Army/Sgt. Kyle Larsen

The National Guard’s State Partnership Program remains critical to the force and “has paid huge dividends,” particularly in Ukraine, the chief of the National Guard Bureau said.  

“Building enduring, trusted relationships” with global partners is a key part of the component’s readiness, Gen. Daniel Hokanson said, citing as an example the partnership between the California National Guard and Ukraine, which dates to 1993. 

“It is a program that has paid huge dividends on a small investment,” he said during a recent news briefing at the Pentagon. “Building on that relationship, Guard soldiers can continue to train our Ukrainian counterparts in Germany so they can defend their nation against Russia's illegal, unprovoked invasion.”  

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, the Guard has provided unwavering support to its Ukrainian partners, Hokanson said.  

“Obviously, just prior [to] the war, folks were there in Lviv training [Ukrainians],” he said. “We continue to train them today on weapons systems and any other thing that they need help with in Germany. So, if asked, we’ll obviously do whatever we’re asked to do.”  

The U.S. continues to support Ukraine, including sending billions of dollars’ worth of military equipment to bolster Ukrainian forces. Though “the situation in Ukraine remains largely static,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin indicated during recent remarks that “Russia is attempting to regroup, recruit and reequip,” a senior defense official said in a DoD news release.  

After Russia invaded and annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014, the California National Guard worked with Ukraine on NCO development.  

“We worked very closely with the Ukrainians and the California National Guard to identify those areas where they felt that they could really improve to prepare themselves if anything like that occurred again,” Hokanson said. “Our Guard units have rotated through since 2015 with the Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine, [and] we've really focused on developing their noncommissioned officers.”  

The Guard’s partnership program sets the standard for global cooperation, Hokanson said. 

“That’s why we are so proud of the State Partnership Program and continue to strengthen ties with our allies and partners, who provide an unmatched strategic advantage and help maintain global order,” Hokanson said in an Army news release.