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North Carolina, North Dakota, Maine Honored for State Partnership Work

  • Published
  • By Air Force Lt. Col. Allison, Stephens,
  • National Guard Bureau Public Affairs

LAS VEGAS - The North Carolina National Guard and Moldova were awarded the 2023 Partnership of the Year at the State Partnership Program’s annual conference April 16-18.

Brig. Gen. Timothy Brower, the National Guard Bureau’s vice director of Strategy, Policy, Plans and International Affairs, announced the winners for partnership, director and bilateral affairs officer of the year. 

North Carolina and Moldova were recognized for their partnership, which began in the mid-’90s. The relationship encompasses traditional military-to-military engagements and incorporates a “whole of government” approach, with active engagement from the North Carolina state government and universities. 

Accepting the award were Maj. Gen. Todd Hunt, the North Carolina adjutant general; North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and Brig. Gen. Sergiu Cirimpei, deputy chief of defense of the Moldovan Army. In a recorded video message, the Moldovan minister of defense cited trust, transparency and cooperation as the tenets of the successful partnership. 

Army Lt. Col. Mark McEvers, a member of the North Dakota National Guard, was named SPP Director of the Year. North Dakota is paired with three partner nations, Ghana, Togo and Benin. The SPP director plans, manages and coordinates all approved SPP activities, including logistics, resources and budget, while working with U.S. government agencies and embassy country teams.

Army Maj. Caryolyn Ritchey of the Maine National Guard was named Bilateral Affairs Officer of the Year for her work in Montenegro. 

“Major Richley is an outstanding representative of the Maine National Guard and embodies the principles of partnership and excellence, which are the basis of the highly successful Maine-Montenegro State Partnership Program,” said U.S. Ambassador to Montenegro Judy Reinke.

The BAO is a Guard member from the partnership’s state or territory who works in the partner nation and reports directly to the security cooperation office. Bilateral affairs officers ensure in-country events are coordinated, managed and executed alongside their partner nation counterparts.

The State Partnership Program began more than 30 years ago with 13 partners and has grown to 106 partner nations. 

The Department of Defense program is administered by the National Guard Bureau and guided by the State Department’s foreign policy goals. It is executed by the adjutants general in support of the combatant commanders, the U.S. Chief of Mission security cooperation objectives and the DOD’s strategic objectives.