WV National Guard has been selected as the U.S. partner to the nation of Gabon in central Africa for the National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program, expanding its successful program to a third partner nation. 

“I’m thrilled to announce this groundbreaking partnership with Gabon because it’s a testament to our National Guard’s influence and ability to contribute to global security,” Gov Justice said. “More importantly, this partnership also underscores West Virginia’s pivotal role on the global stage. Time and time again, West Virginians prove to be leaders in every initiative, including strategic military operations. The National Guard’s actions will be instrumental in promoting regional stability, and I know they’ll continue to demonstrate unwavering commitment to expanding global alliances while showcasing West Virginia state pride among our international allies.”

“I am incredibly honored that our West Virginia National Guard has been selected to partner with Gabon through the SPP and will have the opportunity to address regional challenges and strategic imperatives in Africa in coordination with our Gabonese partners,” Maj. Gen. Bill Crane, Adjutant General of the West Virginia National Guard stated. “We have a clearly demonstrated track record of our ability to provide mutually beneficially training and engagements through our Peruvian and Qatari relationships, and I have no doubt that we will see an enduring and fruitful partnership with Gabon.”

The West Virginia-Gabon partnership will mark the 19th nation in Africa to be formally joined with a U.S. state through the SPP. Through the partnership with Gabon, the WVNG will seek to increase military and diplomatic cooperation, develop and expand defense capabilities and create mutually beneficial training interactions. In addition, the two entities will work to increase interoperability of forces and promote regional stability.

The State Partnership Program began in 1993 with 13 partners. Thirty years later, the program has grown to 100 partner-nations and is a key U.S. security cooperation tool that facilitates collaboration across all aspects of civil-military affairs. This low-cost program delivers a significant return on investment by broadening the pool of security partners who are willing and able to support defense and security cooperation objectives around the world.

“The West Virginia National Guard continues to make our state and country proud, and I’m thrilled they have been selected to partner with Gabon for this important program. The West Virginia National Guard was specifically selected to partner with Gabon due to their professionalism and success with their other two partners, Qatar and Peru. I have no doubt that Gabon will also be positively influenced by the expertise of our guardsmen and women, and that this relationship will serve as a foundation to further increase the cooperation between our nations. I look forward to seeing the positive impacts of this collaboration and I will continue to support our National Guard men and women at home and abroad,” Senator Manchin said.

“I’m proud of the WVNG’s stellar reputation, both at home and abroad, and I am pleased to hear that another State Partner will be able to benefit from their skill set,” U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) said. “The National Guard’s State Partnership Program remains an important tool in advancing U.S. interests and building military-to-military connections globally. I look forward to supporting the WVNG as it continues to excel in this program.”

The West Virginia – Gabon partnership will focus on key leader engagements, non-commissioned officer professional development, basic soldier skills instruction, aviation maintenance training, disaster preparedness and response operations, and military civil engineering.

The WVNG has existing partnerships with the nations of Peru and Qatar through the SPP. Since 1996, West Virginia and Peru have partnered together for more than 200 engagements, particularly in the areas of counterinsurgency, anti-terrorism, emergency preparedness, disaster response, and recovery.​ Since 2018, West Virginia and Qatar have partnered for numerous anti-terrorism and professional development engagements, including working closely during the 2022 FIFA World Cup held in Qatar.

Gabon is located along the Atlantic Ocean on the African continent. Approximately four times the size of West Virginia, Gabon has a comparable population to the Mountain State and has a similarly sized military to that of the WVNG. The nation is primarily rural and forested and relies heavily on fossil fuel extraction economically.