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North Dakota National Guard Celebrates 20-year Ghana Partnership

  • Published
  • By Sgt. Michaela Granger,
  • 116th Public Affairs Detachment

ACCRA, Ghana – The North Dakota National Guard celebrated its 20-year partnership with Ghana in the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program Feb. 22.

The partnership, the third-oldest in Africa, began in 2004 and has included over 200 activities.

Guard members who attended the 20th-anniversary event in Accra included Maj. Gen. Al Dohrmann, adjutant general; Sgt. Maj. Eric Binstock, state command sergeant major; Lt. Col. Mark McEvers, NDNG SPP director, and Maj. Beth Simek, NDNG bilateral affairs officer for Ghana.

“We’ve accomplished a lot in 20 years, and that should come as no surprise; it’s easy to accomplish big things when you’re friends, and we are friends,” said Dohrmann. “Calling the State Partnership Program a program is really a disservice to what we’re doing here. It really underestimates the importance, the impact. I see it more as a commitment, a bond between the people of Ghana and the people of North Dakota that transcends borders and cultures, a bond based off of shared values, goals and aspirations.”

Despite vast geological differences, Ghana and North Dakota both suffer from severe flooding. The partners share disaster preparation and response information. 

The North Dakota-Ghana partnership is one of 18 on the continent of Africa. The Republic of Ghana is a regional peacekeeping provider, with over 75,000 peacekeepers deployed throughout its history.

“We were very lucky to get Ghana,” said McEvers. “What this partnership provides Soldiers and Airmen is the experience to work with different cultures and using some of the knowledge they’ve gained through the North Dakota National Guard and share that with our partners in Ghana.”

The NDNG, the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services and Ghana’s National Disaster Management Organization work together. The North Dakota organizations have helped build a National Emergency Operations Center and regularly train with Ghana on incident command principles to respond effectively to disasters.

For 15 years, the 164th Regional Training Institute in Devils Lake, North Dakota, and the Ghana Armed Forces Engineer Training School in Accra have hosted an exchange program for noncommissioned officers to learn from each other by interacting with the institutional leadership and engaging with students at both locations, gaining valuable feedback from the field.

“This is just a wonderful opportunity to be able to use some of our knowledge and to understand new cultures and new processes and procedures,” said McEvers. “I have not once had a North Dakota National Guardsman come back and say, ‘That engagement wasn’t worth my time.’”

 The State Partnership Program was developed in 1993 in response to the Cold War and now includes 100 nations.