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State Partnership Program Factsheet
11 MINUTE READ
June 17, 2022

 

State Partnership Program Factsheet

Top Lines

  • The State Partnership Program is not and has not ever been a security or military alliance. The United States is not seeking a military alliance with Nepal.

 

  • Worldwide, the State Partnership Program brings together the U.S. National Guard and military personnel for a variety of training, education, and related activities.

 

  • It has existed for 25 years in over 90 countries, most of which are outside this region.

 

  • Nepal asked to participate in the program in 2015 and again in 2017. The United States accepted its request in 2019. There is no proposed SPP agreement with Nepal.

 

  • Among the important security issues for the Nepali Army’s program is disaster risk management.

What is the State Partnership Program?

The State Partnership Program (SPP) is an exchange program between an American state’s National Guard and a partner foreign country. The U.S. National Guard domestically supports U.S. first responders in dealing with natural disasters, such as earthquakes, floods, and wildfires.

In the event of natural and other disasters, ranging from hurricanes to earthquakes, floods, and fires, the United States seeks to share and exchange the best practices and capabilities of our National Guards — our first-line responders.

Through the global program, the U.S. National Guard and partnering countries conduct military-to-military training and education in support of common defense security goals and leverages whole-of-society relationships and capabilities to facilitate broader interagency and bilateral exchanges spanning military, government, economic and social spheres.

Examples of SPP programs include:

  • Morocco: The Utah National Guard (UTNG) supports a multinational exercise where the military from both countries develop and advance medical capabilities. The humanitarian mission allows each country’s military to work together to enhance Moroccan civilians’ access to medical care.
  • Romania: The Alabama National Guard (ANG) and Romania have strengthened ties through COVID-19 response. In 2020, a Romanian delegation of civilian and military personnel, made up of Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) and medical specialists, visited healthcare facilities in Alabama to discuss medical emergency and COVID-19 response.
  • Bangladesh: The Oregon National Guard (ORNG) supports the Tiger Lightning Exercise at the Bangladesh Institute of Peace Support Operations Training. Members of the ORNG train alongside their Bangladeshi counterparts on regional crisis response and counter-improvised explosive device/explosive ordnance disposal capabilities.

Does the U.S. have other military programs in Nepal?

Yes. The United States has had decades of mil-to-mil cooperation with Nepal. Benefits of this cooperation have included:

  • Humanitarian assistance including in the aftermath of the devastating 2015 earthquakes
  • Over $7.5 million COVID-19 assistance over the course of the pandemic.

The U.S. military conducts humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) exercises and training exchanges with the Nepali Army; including at the Birendra Peace Operations Training Center, with the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Holding Unit, and with the Armed Police Force, primarily through its Disaster Management Training School.

The Disaster Response Exercise and Exchange (DREE) is one example of the U.S. engagement with Nepal. The biannual exercise focuses on understanding how the Government of Nepal, the Nepali Army, other partner nations, international agencies, private partners, and Non- Governmental Organizations can work together to support civ-mil disaster response.

 

Does Nepal have military exchanges with other countries?

Yes. India is the biggest security partner, which focuses on occupational training and equipment and transportation support. China has conducted an annual military exercise, provided significant allocations of annual professional military education courses, and has increasingly delivered military equipment (pre-COVID). The Nepali Army also has a limited military relationship with Israel, the UK, and other South Asian countries. In the past few years, Nepal has had high-level visits of military personnel from Australia, the UK, India, and Bangladesh.

Why did General Flynn visit? What happened during his visit?

During the past two years official visits of all kinds – diplomatic, political, development, and military leaders – were significantly curtailed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now that travel is normalizing around the world, General Flynn visited Nepal to meet with senior leadership of the Government of Nepal and the Nepal Army to discuss the long U.S.-Nepal partnership on humanitarian assistance and disaster management, and to commend Nepal for its strong support for UN Peacekeeping Missions.

Throughout our decades-long bilateral relationship, the United States has consistently supported Nepal during times of crisis, and in strengthening its disaster preparedness capabilities.

Many countries have non-alliance mil-to-mil cooperation to share expertise, train, and educate one another in order to strengthen their independent and collective security.

General Flynn did briefly discuss the State Partnership Program with his interlocuters, along with reiterating U.S. admiration of Nepal’s commitments to the UN Peacekeeping program. There was nothing handed over at the meeting. There is no “agreement” to sign. That is false.

Is SPP a military alliance?

No. The State Partnership Program is not an alliance of any kind. The United States has never sought a military alliance with Nepal, nor does it have plans to do so.

Was the letter published online about signing an agreement real?

No. The document published by some online outlets purporting to be a military deal between the United States and Nepal is fake.

Is SPP a China containment or other geopolitical tool?

No. SPP has existed for over 25 years and includes over 80 partnerships with over 90 countries, the majority of which are not in this region, and the majority of which began long ago.

Why is the U.S. pressuring Nepal for an SPP?

The United States is not pressuring for an SPP with Nepal. Nepal asked to participate in SPP twice, first in 2015 and again in 2017, and the U.S. accepted Nepal’s request in 2019.

The United States has consistently worked with the Government of Nepal to provide help to people in crisis – most recently during the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2015 earthquake. Through the State Partnership Program, the United States works with over 90 other countries to share the best practices and capabilities of our National Guards — our first-line responders. SPP can be an effective means of facilitating this type of cooperation.

Is SPP a part of the Indo-Pacific Strategy?

SPP is mentioned in Indo-Pacific Strategy Reports, but this post-dates Nepal’s two requests to participate in SPP, which began in 2015 – before the Indo-Pacific Strategy existed.

SPP has existed for over 25 years and includes over 80 partnerships with over 90 countries, the majority of which are not in this region

It is once again important to remember IPS is NOT a military alliance—that’s disinformation.

What has happened in the years since the U.S. accepted Nepal’s request?

Since the U.S. agreed to Nepal’s request to take part in the State Partnership Program, we have continued to have open dialogue with Nepali leaders to collaborate on what the cooperative exchanges under SPP might look like, to include possible humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness activities. No SPP-led events have occurred because Nepal has not wanted them to occur. Any events under SPP would happen only with the approval of Nepal.

Did this happen without civilian oversight?

The partnership is a regular mil-to-mil exchange program occurring between the National Guard and Nepali Army. When Nepal asked to participate in the program in 2015, and again in 2017, the request involved civilian, government, and military leaders from Nepal, openly looking to take advantage of a program focused on security cooperation and exchanges, and humanitarian assistance and disaster readiness.

What is the connection with MCC?

There is no connection whatsoever with MCC. Efforts to link MCC with SPP are dishonest and false.

Who do we believe is behind the disinformation about SPP?

We do not know, but it is clearly someone intent on using humanitarian-focused U.S. programs as a means to an end, whether political or strategic.

How can Nepal stop being a part of SPP?

A country can simply inform the United States that they no longer wish to participate in the program. Out of nearly 90 countries with the State Partnership Program, only Belarus has ended its participation in the program.

How will this controversy affect the bilateral relationship?

Independent of SPP, the U.S. bilateral relationship that has focused on people-to-people connections including student and professional exchanges, diplomatic engagement, military partnership, trade, and common values remains strong.