Bloggers Note: Few citizens realize the diplomatic tool available to their Governors through their National Guard’s State Partnership Program (SPP). Created in 1992 the SPP’s purpose was to model the American national guard’s deference to its governor and state emergency managers for former Soviet bloc countries. In 1993, NGB partnered California with Ukraine. Cal Guard leaders of the 1990s era created a powerful model that not only partnered National Guard units and soldiers with their Ukrainian military and civilian emergency manager counterparts, but paired citizen soldiers’ employers, bankers, business associates, civic leaders, and community peers with Ukrainian civilians.
The Nation’s Governors, but particularly Gov. Jerry Brown with his China initiatives, fail to seize this powerful diplomatic tool, allowing the SPP to fall into a state of disrepair and stray from its original vision, as arguably conceded in a 2011 Congressional Research Service report titled: The National Guard State Partnership Program: Background, Issues, and Options for Congress. In this post I write about SPP’s:
- Connection with the California National Guard and Ukraine;
- Surge into a dynamic civilian engagement program;
- Roots to prophecy and history;
- Demise into mediocrity and complacency;
- Relationship to Russia’s resurgence; and
- Sterilization through Gov. Jerry Brown’s China Initiative;
I conclude by arguing that the SPP –with civilian engagement restructured as private-public partnerships– is an even more viable option today than it was in 1992 for not only helping former Soviet bloc countries escape Russia’s influence, but coalescing the 68 countries worldwide participating in the SPP against the growing evil sprouting from the seeds of Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March 2014.
California’s Ukraine Connection
Since 1993, California has had a state-Nation relationship with Ukraine that conceivably could have short-circuited Russia’s aggression if California’s leadership had involved itself in the National Guard State Partnership Program (SPP).
Victorious in the Cold War, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) faced regional security, economic, and democratic reformation challenges in the wake of the Soviet Union’s dissolution. NATO tactics included military to military (M2M) exercises and training among NATO and the former Soviet bloc countries through the Partnership for Peace (PfP) program. The SPP, managed by the National Guard Bureau (NGB), evolved when the Latvian government requested M2M relationship based on the United States National Guard’s citizensoldier model. Army Gen. Colin Powell, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs at the time, and Army Gen. John Shalikashvili, European Command (EUCOM) commander, blessed the concept, and NGB Chief Lt. Gen. John Conway launched the program in 1992 as a way to build partnerships with these non-NATO countries.
SPP: The Marshall Plan of the Cold War
The SPP was promoted as “the Marshall Plan” of the post-Cold War. It was touted as a diplomatic bridge from “Main Street America to the former Soviet bloc countries. It permitted state Governor’s to engage in Post-Cold War diplomacy by providing subject matter experts (SMEs) to consult former Soviet bloc countries on transitioning from centralized to decentralized economic and governmental systems. The SPP had a footprint in the National Security Strategies (NSS) in the last decade of the 20th century.
SPP objectives underscored 20th Century social, religious, and economic events precipitating the Soviet Union’s break-up. The sparing between President John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev during early 60s, Poland’s Solidarity Movement under Lech Wałęsa, and President Ronald Reagan’s resolve to call out Mikhail Gorbachev “to tear down this wall” all contributed to Soviet Union’s downfall.
The religious overtones are maybe stronger than the political events. The three Fatima of Prophecies–the second of which was that God would punish the world unless it prayed for the consecration of Russia to “My Immaculate Heart”–is arguably the foundation upon which Walesa’s solidarity succeeded. St. Faustina’s December 16, 1936 appeal to God to spare Russia’s destruction was perhaps a “stay in execution” of God’s Justice. She wrote in her diary: “Jesus said to me, I cannot suffer [Russia] any longer. …If it had not been for the prayers of souls that are pleasing to God, that whole Nation would have already been reduced to nothingness. Oh, how I suffer for that nation which has banished God from its borders!”
It was Russia’s conversion about which my Uncles John, Chris, Harvey Stevens, aunt Faith Leight, and my mother–Alma—often debated during family gatherings in Great Falls, Montana in the 60s and 70s. Debates centered on: the necessity of rescuing Nazi expertise through the “Nazi” ratline” to combat Joseph Stalin’s even more treacherous Communist Empire; Adolf Hitler’s collaboration with the Muslim Caliphates to eradicate the Jews; and Russia’s eventual alliance with Red China to fend off Christianity to preserve a communist chokehold on the world. Uncle John inevitability paraphrased Philosopher George Santayana saying, “He who does not know his history is doomed to repeat it.”
It was in this context of family, history and religion that I proposed a comprehensive strategic communications plan involving media, business, agriculture, government, and education in lieu of recruiting solely media that Lt. Col. (Ret.) Mitch Brown, California National Guard SPP Coordinator, requested to cover Peace Shield ’98. In my mind the Cold War wasn’t over since Russia hadn’t converted; and evil still lurked in the struggle between Russia’s desire for a Commonwealth of independent states (CIS) among former Soviet bloc countries, and NATO’s hopes for independent states. The National Guard, I believed, was the perfect launch pad for projecting democratic and economic values among these former Soviet bloc countries and to strive for that period of peace for which Saints encouraged us to pray.
Civilian Engagements: Adding the SPP Diplomatic Dimension
Brown and I broached the concept with California National Guard leadership–who were skeptical–and pitched it to National Guard Bureau Public Affairs Chief Dan Donahue, who liked the idea, but wanted a detailed plan within 48 hours. We delivered and, to our surprise, NGB not only blessed it, but provided a passenger aircraft to transport California businessmen, teachers, farmers, civic leaders and NGB officers stationed at their Ukraine desk at the United States Department of State to L’Viv, Ukraine for Peace Shield ’98.
The proposal dovetailed into the SPP foundation established by California’s adjutant generals Maj. Gen. Robert C. Thrasher and Maj. Gen. Tandy K. Bozeman. Maj. Gen. Robert C. Brandt, commander California Army National Guard, and Brig. Gen. Edmund C. Zysk, commander, 40th Infantry Division, partnered the 40th Infantry Division (Mechanized) with the 6th Division, National Guard of Ukraine and Ukraine’s 93rd Motorized Rifle Division, Ground Forces to model the American National Guard for their Ukrainian military peers.
The Cal Guard commanders zeroed in on Ukrainian military system weaknesses inherited
from the Soviet system. They worked in unison with the Kansas National Guard to help Ukraine surge a Non Commissioned Officer (NCO) corps—the backbone of the U.S. military–and design officer professional development schools at Ukraine’s National Guard Academy in Karkiv, Ukraine.
They laid the cornerstone for civilian engagements by integrating California’s sister cities with Ukraine. The Cal Guard leaders arranged for Ukrainian military and civilian leaders to stay in Guardsmen homes meeting their families, visiting Ukrainian sister cities, training with California’s Office of Emergency Services managers, interacting with Guardsmen’s civilian employers, schools, banks, religious Faiths, and volunteer organizations. It was from this pool where we found nearly 70 California teachers, farmers, business leaders, and civic leaders willing to work with Ukrainian counterparts to: nurture trade; strengthen global competitiveness; raise cultural awareness; and open a back door diplomatic channel for California Governors to engage Ukrainian civilian leaders with non-military tactics non-threatening to Russia.
Civilian Engagement: Blue Print for Economic/Democratic Transformation
Brandt appointed the Guard’s most policy savvy officer–Lt. Col.Warren Alberts–to surge our civilian engagement plan. Alberts quickly established liaison with the NGB Ukrainian desk in the State Department, EUCOM, and the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine to align the civilian delegation mission with these higher command’s priorities. He coordinated with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to ensure the project supported its vision to promote democracy. He enlisted U.S. Peace Corps volunteers through USAID to link the California farmers, teachers,business and government leaders with their Ukrainian counterparts. He attempted to include California governor and elected leaders who showed only token interest.
Under Alberts’ leadership, the mission succeeded on several fronts. Sacramento, California teachers Bill Hoffman, Elizabeth Joy and School Principal Jana Fields formed a non-profit organization called “Teachers Reaching Out (TRO).” TRO maintained teacher exchanges, classroom video cams, and English book donations with their counterparts at the Starichy School in L’Viv.
Yolo County Agribusinessman Casey Stone, Mike Campbell, Brad Pollock and Brian Huckins, modeled the American farm for a farm on L’Viv’s outskirts. They advised Ukrainian farmers on transitioning from a collective to a privately owned farm.
“I was very moved by (the farmer’s) spirit,” Stone told the Davis Enterprise newspaper in 1998. “They are very inefficient in the ways they utilize land. “His biggest problem is the government…It’s hard to get loans and the very high interest rates will just kill you since they don’t own the land, they can’t use it for collateral.”
Campbell, an assistant dean of the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at the University of California Davis, rapidly recognized the Ukraine farmers challenge with the country’s Oligarchy.
“They don’t have any money to buy equipment, that’s the chicken and the egg of it,” Campbell said. “This farmer spends his money as fast as he gets it. He doesn’t trust the banks, and there is no trustworthy economic infrastructure.”
Russian Influence on NATO: Charting the Treacherous Journey
Col. Kevin Ellsworth assessed the civilian engagement as a “viable alternative” for helping Ukraine to remain solvent and charted its “long and powerful journey in his 2000 War College Research Paper titled: “State Partnership Program: Does the Partnership Between the California National Guard and Ukraine Support the U.S. Engagement Strategy and is it a Relevant Mission.”
Ellsworth recognized that Ukraine’s strategic value as a buffer zone between Russia and NATO. He also identified “Ukrainian independence’s Achilles Heel” because it served as alternative energy transport corridor” for delivering cheaper oil to Asia and regional European countries from untouched oil reserves in the Caspian Sea.
He quoted James Sherr–currently a fellow at the Russian and Eurasian Chatham House Think Tank in London.
“Russia regularly cut off Ukraine oil supplies at the beginning of the 21st Century when the former Warsaw Pact country failed to make its payments,” Sherr wrote. “Empowering Russia to impose high taxes on Ukrainian goods and services as a form of economic intimidation.”
The SPP, however, would fail to live up to its promise and sink into complacency as subsequent Cal Guard generations were lulled into the delusion that the Cold War was over.
SPP Complacency: Russia Exploits “Ukraine Independence’s Achilles Heel”
By a quirk of fate, I was deployed to Ukraine in July 2013 as the
officer in-charge (OIC) of the observation, control, and evaluation (OCE) team tasked with assessing a Ukrainian battalion cadre staff during a PfP Exercise Rapid Response 13. More 1,300 troops from 17 nations participated in the multinational field training exercise (FTX) and command post exercise (CPX) at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center in Yavoriy, Ukraine.
While dining with exercise co-directors–Ukrainian Ground Forces Maj. Gen. Vyacheslav Nazarkin and U.S. Army Col. Alfred Renzi–one evening, the Ukrainian general quizzed me on the status of several CNG generals with whom he worked. I didn’t have the heart to tell the general that each was arguably forced to retire as a result of a seven-year conflict within the state officer Corps that began in 2005 with the forced resignation of Maj. Gen. Thomas Eres. The internal division was a generational struggle between a younger officer corps anxious to assume senior leadership and those preferring to be groomed to assume the SPP projects that Alberts surged and Ellsworth envisioned. The more ambitious officers eventually prevailed on the coat tails of Gov. Jerry Brown.
I could feel the fallout of the California National Guard’s coup d’états during Rapid Trident ’13. I listened patiently as Ukrainian field grade officers opened up to us and shared stories of alleged grandstanding by Cal Guardsmen during previous PfP exercises and the appearance of impropriety when some Cal Guard Officers allegedly used their SPP assignments to marry Ukrainian women. Because of such perceptions, the Ukrainian officers were at first suspicious of our agendas and resisted our coaching. We eventually won their hearts and minds with Col. Rezi’s guidance, revealing tough, aggressive officers eager to learn the military arts and sciences of command and control necessary for combined operations with NATO forces. In hindsight, this training was perhaps timely given Russia’s aggression months later.
Putin’s Delusional Spell: The Guard Drops its Guard
More disheartening is that Russian President Vladimir Putin clearly telegraphed his intent to rebuild the Soviet Empire as early as 2005, when he called the collapse of the Soviet Union a major geopolitical disaster of the century.” Then he apparently stole the SPP playbook by creating a professional NCO corps, reorganizing Russia’s military reserves, streamlining its military, upgrading its professional military training and military schools.
It’s almost as if Putin also read Ellsworth’s research paper, capitalizing on a technological revolution to modernize Russia’s oil industry, cut Ukraine’s “Achilles Heel, and strengthen its economic hold on Europe.
In contrast CNG SPP coordinators became bogged down in bureaucratic turf wars amongst USAID, the United States Department of State, and U.S. Embassies over ownership of the civilian engagement activities. Civilian engagement activities faded and California’s program evaporated with SPP coordinators who lacked the policy scholarship to sustain Major General Bozeman’s, Paul Monroe’s, Thomas Eres’, Brandt’s, Zysk’s, and Col. Alberts gains.
China Emphasis: Spiraling Toward Biblical Apocalypse
Compounding California’s lost opportunity to invest in Ukraine’s future was Gov. Brown’s anxiousness to find a quick cure for California’s economic woes by pursuing China’s $4 to $5 billion for foreign investment.
” California’s got to get a piece of that,” he said.
Brown is conceivably factoring the World’s ninth-largest economy into an equation of a Russian-China alliance detrimental to national security and global peace. American businesses don’t trust China fearing its State-Owned-Enterprises’ (SOE) will intervene with subsidies, trade and investment, and policies affecting U.S. business, according to the August 21, 2014 Congressional Research Service report titled, China’s Economic Rise: History, Trends, Challenges, and Implications for the United States.
China is en route to the overtaking the U.S. as the world’s largest economy. With Russia’s ranking as the World’s seventh largest economy, its control of Europe’s energy lifeline, China’s projected demand for 30 percent of all global energy by 2035, and both countries interests to invest in Africa’s energy resources while clinging to their totalitarian ideologies is arguably the formula for World dominance.
Adding a Muslim Caliphate quotient to this equation debatably equals resurrection of an “Evil Empire” stronger that our parent’s generation faced in World War II. Putin’s desire to enter the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad—with his links to Iran–is eerily reminiscent of Adolf Hitler’s support of Haj Amin al-Husseini in 1941–jeopardizing Israel’s existence, marking our generation’s failure to fulfill prophecy for Russia’s religious conversion, and possibly phasing in the third Fatima prophecy that God debatably graced us the power to dodge through prayer and Faith in his Saints.
“After the second failure of another world war, perhaps one can speak of a third war, one fought piecemeal, with crimes, massacres, destruction,” Pope Francis recently said.
Faith: Antidote For Armageddon
Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko, in his September 18, 2014 address before a Joint Session of Congress, accentuated the Pope’s observation when he called Russia’s aggression “Europe’s War, “America’s War,” a war for the free world.” If failure to heed prophetic warnings brings the World to the brink of Armageddon, then perhaps repentance averts holocaust. Poroshenko may have inferred a form of reparation when he requested American leadership, lethal, and non-lethal support. Support that can be packaged in the SPP as follows:
- Transform Civilian Engagements into Private-Public Partnerships—The Department of Defense neither endorsed nor ruled out civilian engagements when Congress directed they publish SPP guidance–Department of Defense Instruction 5111.20: State Partnership Program–in 2012. The issue was funding. The Cal Guard’s 1998 civilian project demonstrated that imagination and creativity can overtake funding shortages. Other than the jet NGB provided, civilians in that project paid for their own expenses to L’Viv, Ukraine, then proceeded to fund follow-on projects through non-profit organizations and associations. Private-public partnerships (PPP) consisting of non-profits, associations, and state international trade commissions could become a funding source for civilian engagements. The PPPs could collaborate with USAIDs, Embassies, U.S. State Department through their National Guard SPP Coordinators and US Combatant Command’s bilateral affairs officers to script its goals and objectives.
- Leverage Civilian Engagements– Many SPP analysts erroneously believe that the 1998 civilian engagement Alberts’ coordinated, were Guardsmen serving in both their military and civilian occupations. The 1998 civilian delegation had little to do with the military other than employing, socializing, worshiping, and volunteering in community charities with Guardsmen living in their neighborhoods. With National Guard armories in more than 3,000 communities nationwide, SPP/PPPs could unleash financial, expertise, and civic service “know how” support in 68 countries at a scale unseen since World War II. Image the competition this creates for Russia and China for foreign investment in Africa’s oil reserves off its Atlantic coast? The security dividend generated when World is not as reliant on transporting oil through the Suez Canal? Or the added dimension of Nation Building in South America?
- Involve State Governors/Rotate SPP Countries as necessary — California’s dealings with China illustrates the economic principle that World’s economy is interdependent. It also arguably exposes the potential for harm that Governors like Jerry Brown can cause when they choose to be mavericks instead of uniting behind our National Interests. California is hardly in a position to advise critical countries like Ukraine on their economic policies when its own policies generate a business exodus from California to Texas, Arizona, Nevada, and Oregon. Especially in these times when Ukrainian President Poroshenko is reforming his country’s economy, dissolving its oligarchy, and addressing government corruption. DOD, NGB, State Department, USAID, and embassies need a mechanism where they can collectively re-partner a country whose National Guard affiliate’s state government is dysfunctional, and replace it with a National Guard’s whose state’s economic policies are more compatible with the National Interests–such as Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
- Clarify Guard SSP Military Mission-Maj. Gen. David S. Baldwin, adjutant general, California National Guard shared his SPP vision –which is consistent with NGB and DOD perspective–while visiting us in Ukraine during Rapid Trident ’13. His concept is to project National Guards into cooperative security missions alongside their partner country. I disagree. The National Guard should serve as its SPP country’s model for being the logistics, transportation, and maintenance pole that can drive the tip of the active duty spear–such as the 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team–into the Russian military’s heart and destroy it.
Perhaps most would agree if they had seen the 173rd’s effect on the 16 nation militaries participating in Rapid Trident ’13 during morning formations. Their leadership was visible as they performed morning combat checks before morning inspections–projecting a chill of inspiration that cut through the morning air like Solidarity slicing through the Warsaw Pack. It appeared they infused the other international militaries with a sense of military professionalism and courage that increased their combat power ten fold. This is the tip of the U.S. military spear visible to Ukraine and NATO–the tip that the American National Guard and Reserves can fatally plunge into our adversaries heart, while maintaining its flexibility at home for responding to civil emergencies.
It’s the kind of leadership and inspiration that Navy Capt. (Ret.) Bob Wells, former National Security Advisor to Vice-President Dick Cheney, called for during a March 8, 2014 Fox News interview when he said: “Once upon a time in the Cold War, many different nations really articulated the fact that the Eastern Europeans and the former Soviet Union countries really needed to be free….I think that spirit should be rejuvenated again through American leadership as well as talking with Poland [and], talking with the other former Soviet Union countries that have become free since the Cold War.”
While Jerry Brown refrains from using the National Guard to secure the Nation’s Southern border while urging fellow Governors to heed a religious call, he appears deaf to decades of religious prophecy calling for the world to unite against an evil rooted in Russia and currently mushrooming into a worldwide ideological war. While an argument can be made that the SPP is an unfeasible strategy for the Governor, California’s own history suggests otherwise–let alone the legacy of the world war II and Cold War generations perhaps epitomized by my late Uncle’s dramatic rants warning that “he who does not know his history is doomed to repeat it.”
Then there are those from those generations, like my deceased mother, whose hope is rooted in their prayers for leaders like Gov. Brown to hear those religious calls of which he is so fond of citing, and refrain from herding us into formation for the March to Armageddon. Of course, Congress could authorize DoD and the State Deprtment to take such a strategically vital SPP country away from California.
Then again California voters could hear the Saints prayers for Jerry Brown and vote against him November’s gubernatorial election.