PARAMARIBO, Suriname – Senior leaders from the South Dakota National Guard visited the Republic
of Suriname to reinforce its state partnership with Suriname Defense Force officials, Nov. 22-25.
SDNG leaders met with Suriname’s minister of defense, the U.S. ambassador to Suriname, and other SDF
leaders to collaborate on ideas for working together and providing future training opportunities for both
South Dakota and Suriname, in coordination with U.S. Southern Command, established a successful
security cooperation relationship in 2006 under the National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program.
Since then, numerous exchanges have taken place between the SDNG and Suriname’s Defense Forces to
share experiences and best practices in a variety of military training and topics.
“The South Dakota National Guard has an excellent relationship with Suriname,” said Maj. Gen. Jeff
Marlette, SDNG adjutant general. “It’s been a good program over the years. We do many engagements
each year with them coming to South Dakota and South Dakota going to Suriname.”
The State Partnership Program provides unique capacity-building capabilities to combatant commanders
through partnerships between U.S. states and foreign countries. The program helps to support U.S.
national interests and security cooperation goals by engaging partner nations through military-to-military
“The relationship between South Dakota and Suriname is very positive,” said Brig. Gen. Michael Oster,
SD Army Guard assistant adjutant general. “It reaches further than people realize. We have been able to
meet people and develop relationships not only at the senior leadership level, but on multiple levels that
will shape how the partnership will develop going forward.”
The partnership has made an impact to both organizations over the past 13 years. Every year, nearly a
dozen exchanges take place between SDNG and SDF service members that enhances training, skills,
techniques and operational processes and procedures.
“The projects that the South Dakota National Guard have done over the years have always been very well
received by the people,” said Marlette. “We have done medical missions, engineering projects and
exchanged leadership ideas.
“We have also worked on things that have national impact, such as how to respond in support to civil
authorities in the event of a natural disaster or civil disturbance,” added Marlette. “The exchange of ideas
has been beneficial to both organizations.”
During the visit, the SDNG also attended Suriname’s National Day celebration.
“We always come down for their National Day celebration, which is equivalent to our nation’s
Independence Day,” said Marlette. “This shows our recognition and support for them as a partner nation.”
Oster also emphasized the benefit the partnership has on providing additional perspective.
“In an area where one of us are a little more experienced or have had a little more exposure, we can share
alternate ways of doing business,” he said. “Maybe more than that, you also get different perspectives on
what you are already doing well.
“You get a more worldly awareness,” Oster added. “It may seem that South Dakota and Suriname are
very far apart, but when you get together you realize that people are people, and we have more in
common than you might think.”
The SDNG and Suriname will continue to explore new opportunities for the future of the partnership.
“There are now new opportunities to work together through our military academies,” Oster said. “We are
very much looking forward to collaborating and sharing best practices in this area as we have in so many
others over the years.”
“The State Partnership Program is a great tool for U.S. Southern Command to use to help stabilize the
region and combat foreign influences that might not share the same values and priorities of the United
States,” said Marlette. “The Suriname government likes working with us and we like working with them.
This program will continue to be successful for many years into the future.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION, please contact the SDNG Public Affairs Office at (605) 737-6721 or