According to a top Army official, National Guard members from California have been instrumental in aiding Ukrainian troops in combat against Russian forces over the last 17 months. This assistance is provided through the Guard’s State Partnership Program, which pairs troops from the United States with military personnel from other countries for training.
- The Guard’s State Partnership Program has directly benefited Ukraine since the country was invaded by Russia in February 2022. California National Guard has trained Ukrainian troops in infantry tactics, equipment operation, and battlefield mobility.
- Major General William Zana, the director of strategic plans, policy, and international affairs for the National Guard, credits the success of small-unit tactics in Ukraine partly to the training between Ukraine, California, and other regional partners.
- The California National Guard’s partnership with Ukraine is not new; it’s been ongoing for three decades and intensified after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. The training continued throughout the Russian invasion.
- The State Partnership Program was initiated in 1993 to provide defense training to countries formed after the breakup of the Soviet Union. The California National Guard’s association with Ukraine was among the program’s earliest collaborations.
- The State Partnership Program has led to partnerships between 100 countries and 54 U.S. states, territories, and the District of Columbia since its inception, and more partnerships are expected to form in the future.