U.S., Partners Cooperate to Counter 21st-Century Threats
By MacKenzie C. Babb
Washington - The United States is engaging in partnerships with countries around the world to build military cooperation in the fight against 21st-century security threats, according to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
U.S. Army General Martin Dempsey spoke about the benefits of partnerships July 17 at the National Guard Symposium on Mutual Security Cooperation in Washington.
He said that in the past, governments around the world had a monopoly on top-end technologies related to lethal force and military instruments.
"I think it's pretty clear to everybody that nation-states no longer have that monopoly," Dempsey said. "And what that does is it increases the risk in ways that I think we all need to continue to talk about and think about and interact about."
The chairman commended the National Guard's State Partnership Program as a platform to do just that.
The 65-nation program provides unique partnership-building capabilities to combatant commanders and U.S. ambassadors through partnerships between foreign countries and U.S. states, territories and the District of Columbia.
"The [State Partnership Program] supports U.S. national interests and security cooperation goals by engaging partner nations via military, sociopolitical and economic conduits at the local, state and national level," according to the National Guard website.
Since its start in 1992, the program has become a key U.S. security cooperation tool, facilitating collaboration across all aspects of international civil-military affairs and encouraging people-to-people ties at the state level.
"Building partnership capacity is a core element of everything we do and everything we hope to accomplish," said Kathleen Hicks, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy. She spoke along with Dempsey at the July 17 conference, which honored the 20th anniversary of the State Partnership Program.
Developing these partnerships "is a critical skill set across the armed forces," Hicks said. She said cooperating with allies and partners is vital, and has played a critical role in military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.
But Hicks said networks of security collaboration are important not just in times of crisis, but also in day-to-day deterrence. She said partners are currently working together to counter transnational crime, enhance maritime security and strengthen global humanitarian assistance.
Additionally, security cooperation is fiscally responsible, Hicks said.
"Building partnership capacity elsewhere in the world also remains important for sharing costs and responsibilities for global leadership," she said, adding that the United States military and its allies are committed to developing "innovative, low-cost and small-footprint approaches to achieve our security objectives."
Dempsey echoed that message, calling military cooperation "really a modest investment for a pretty substantial return."
Hicks said the National Guard, the oldest branch of the U.S. armed forces, is well-positioned for global military cooperation, as members' dual state and federal status affords them a broad range of skills and experience applicable to the challenges partner nations face.
(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State.)