The National Guard Arctic Interest Council 2024 Annual Meeting convened in Essex, Vermont from Jan. 31 to Feb. 1, showcasing the pivotal role of the National Guard in fostering security cooperation with Arctic Allies and partners.

At the forefront of this event was the Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies, represented by Matthew Schell, the Deputy Associate Director for Research and Analysis, who provided a comprehensive overview of the center’s role to the 17 states constituting the council.

This year’s NGAIC featured distinguished speakers from Finland, Sweden, and Canada’s armed forces, underscoring the National Guard’s increasing stake in Arctic security.

“The NGAIC has rebounded significantly since the pandemic.  International and intra-departmental participation is at an all-time high,” said Schell.

Central to this expansion is the State Partnership Program, which has burgeoned over its 30-year history to encompass 88 partnerships with nations worldwide. Originating from a U.S. European Command initiative in 1991, the SPP has evolved into a vital tool for U.S. security cooperation, facilitating military engagements and fostering people-to-people ties at the state level.

A significant development in this realm is the formal partnership between Norway and Minnesota in 2023, paving the way for Sweden and Finland to join. Both nations have applied for state partnerships in the upcoming selection round, highlighting the program’s enduring relevance and appeal.

The NGAIC also featured presentations from key U.S. military entities, including Alaska Command, 11th Airborne Division, U.S. Army North, and the Cold Regions Research & Engineering Lab, emphasizing the breadth of cooperation in the Arctic security domain.

Integral to the proceedings was the TSC’s deepening collaboration with the National Guard, epitomized by the selection of Maj. Ryan Richard as the National Guard Arctic Chair.

Maj. Richard, currently serving on the Alaska National Guard Joint Staff as the J2, brings a wealth of experience and a personal connection to the center’s namesake, having served as a staffer for the late Senator Ted Stevens on Capitol Hill.

The establishment of the National Guard Arctic Chair at the TSC signifies a crucial step in bolstering U.S. Arctic security cooperation, providing enhanced coordination and leveraging the National Guard’s invaluable security cooperation experience and relationships.

“As the Ted Stevens Center continues to expand security cooperation in the Arctic, it makes sense to deepen our partnership with the National Guard.  We recognize the value of their longstanding, formal and informal relationships across the North,” explained Schell.

This synergy between the TSC and the National Guard underscores the commitment to advancing U.S. interests across the Arctic region, ensuring stability and prosperity for Arctic nations and beyond.


Courtesy Photo | Matthew Schell, Deputy Associate Director for Research and Analysis at the Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies, with members of the Alaska National Guard during the National Guard Arctic Interest Council 2024 Annual Meeting that occurred Jan. 31 to Feb. 1 in Essex, Vermont. View Image Page