Virginia Army, Air National Guard troops work with the Tajik Army on fieldcraft

Tajik Soldiers from the Peacekeeping Operations (PKO) Battalion practice using the lensatic compass. A five-man team from the Virginia Army and Air National Guard completed an 11-day exchange with the Tajik Army on Aug. 29, 2012. (Photo courtesy of Virginia Guard State Partnership Program)

SANDSTON, Va. — On Aug. 29, 2012 a five-man team from the Virginia Army and Air National Guard, led by Maj. Bill McCarty, completed an 11-day exchange with the Tajik Army. The exchange topics included mission analysis, junior leader development, land navigation, and related issues.

The military exchange focused on the Peacekeeping Operations Battalion, stationed at Shamsi Base, Dushanbe. This unit’s platoon was sent to the international STEPPE EAGLE exercise in Kazakhstan as Tajikistan’s first military unit to operate outside of national borders. The battalion expects to participate in a United Nations’ peacekeeping mission in 2013 and by working with the Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen, the battalion gained experience in operating within a multi-national environment.

Capt. Robert Rogers of the Virginia National Guard works with Tajik Soldiers on map reading and land navigation in the beautiful Varzob region, north of Dushanbe. (Photo courtesy of Virginia National Guard State Partnership Program)

The Virginians were impressed with the capabilities and professionalism of their Tajik counterparts. They gained a deeper understanding of Tajik history and culture by visiting key national sites around the capital city of Dushanbe. The group also practiced various land navigation techniques in the Varzob region, a beautiful area north of the capital.

Every Virginia National Guard State Partnership mission challenges participants to work with other military and civilian cultures. Both the U.S. and the Tajik Soldiers benefitted personally and professionally from the experience.