Virginia Guard troops lead exchange with Tajikistan Peacekeeping Operations Battalion

1st Lt. Art Taryan of the Virginia National Guard’s 237th Engineer Company, leads a seminar on counter IED methods with the Tajikistan Peacekeeping Operations Battalion at Shamsi Military Base in Dushanbe, Tajikistan in July 2012.

SANDSTON, Va. — A seven-man team from the Virginia National Guard ended its three-week State Partnership Program exchange in Tajikistan by spending July 7- 13 with the Tajikistan Peacekeeping Operations Battalion at Shamsi Military Base in the capital city of Dushanbe.

The last half of the exchange began with a day-long seminar on Counter IED measures delivered by 1st Lt. Art Taryan from the West Point-based 237th Engineer Company. Taryan used his deployment experience in 2009 to lead the seminar as well as set up an IED lane on the base’s training grounds.  

Virginia National Guard Soldiers and members of the Tajikistan Peacekeeping Operations Battalion celebrate the completion of the three-week information exchange July 10 at the base’s main conference hall.

On July 4th, the team delivered a presentation on the American holiday as a way to help the Tajiks get a better understanding of American culture and values that U.S. Soldiers hold dear. This was an easy topic to relate to as the Tajiks had just celebrated National Reconciliation Day, which marks the end of the civil war of the 1990s, the week prior.   

The rest of the week featured practical exercises in patrolling, urban operations, and principles of first aid.

Tajikistani Soldiers finished the week by viewing scenes of the Hollywood hits “We Were Soldiers” and “Black Hawk Down” in order to analyze Troop Leading Procedures, visual signals, and other military topics discussed during the exchange. This added a new method of reinforcement from the traditional PowerPoint or outdoor practical exercise.

The last two days featured lectures on peacekeeping standard operating procedures from the United Nations Peace Operations Training Center facilitated by two majors from the Royal Jordanian Army.

The team held a completion ceremony for the 16 Tajikistanis Soldiers involved in the exchange at the base’s main conference hall on July 10.  Lt. Col. Matthew Ritchie, the Virginia National Guard State Partnership Program director, presided over the event and handed out certificates of completion.

“This has definitely been a worthwhile experience,” said Capt. Carlos Maldonado, the team leader. “The Tajik Soldiers were very receptive, and were always eager to work with us. We benefitted as much from us this exchange as they did from us.”