AG visits Tajikistan as part of Va. Guard State Partnership Program

Brig. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, visits Dushanbe, Tajikistan, March 25, 2015, The visit was Williams' first to the country where he met with with Embassy and Ministry of Defense counterparts, including a visit to Shamsi Base to observe an ongoing Virginia National Guard military exchange with the Peacekeeping Battalion. He also met with Gen-Maj Rahmatzoda (formerly Rahmatov), the Commander of Mobile Forces. (Courtesy photo)

Brig. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, visits Dushanbe, Tajikistan, March 25, 2015. The visit was Williams’ first to the country where he met with with Embassy and Ministry of Defense counterparts, including a visit to Shamsi Base to observe an ongoing Virginia National Guard military exchange with the Peacekeeping Battalion. He also met with Gen-Maj Rahmatzoda (formerly Rahmatov), the Commander of Mobile Forces. (Courtesy photo)

SANDSTON, Va. — A number of Virginia National Guard Soldiers, including Brig. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, and Command Sgt. Maj. Alan M. Ferris, the Virginia National Guard Senior Enlisted Leader, recently traveled to Tajikistan in support of the Virginia National Guard’s relationship with the Republic of Tajikistan as part of the National Guard’s State Partnership Program.

“The State Partnership Program is a critical element of the National Guard and our efforts to create partnerships across the world,” Williams said. “Our decade-long relationship with Tajikistan provides our Soldiers and Airmen and opportunity to work side by side with their soldiers learning just as much as they are.”

AG Tajikistan 2

Brig. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, visits Dushanbe, Tajikistan, March 25, 2015, as part of the Virginia National Guard State Partnership Program. As a key U.S. security cooperation tool, the SPP demonstrates the strength of the National Guard on the global stage through the development of long-term relationships, facilitating cooperation across all aspects of international civil-military affairs and encouraging people-to-people ties at the state level. (Courtesy photo)

As part of the National Guard’s State Partnership Program, the Virginia National Guard conducts military-to-military engagements in support of defense security goals, but also leverages whole-of-society relationships and capabilities to facilitate broader interagency and corollary engagements spanning military, government, economic and social spheres. Va. Guard Soldiers and Airmen gain experience working overseas with Tajikistani partners and reinforce the knowledge, skills and attributes obtained during the past decade.

“The State Partnership Program offers our officers, NCOs and Soldiers the chance to engage with our partners in the Tajikistan Army and at the same time provide real world experience for our Soldiers in planning and executing engagements on an international Level,” Ferris said. “With the drawdown in operational deployments, the State Partnership Program has provided our Army and Air Guardsman the chance to engage with other Soldiers on an international level and make a positive difference in how others around the world view the United States military.”

The trip was Williams’ first visit to Tajikistan. He met with representatives from the U.S. Embassy in Dushanbe and counterparts from the Tajikistan Ministry of Defense. He also traveled to Shamsi Base where he observed a military-to-military exchange between Virginia National Guard Soldiers and members of the Tajikistan Peacekeeping Battalion.

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Virginia National Guard Soldiers from the 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment and 429th Brigade Support Battalion pose with troops from the Tajik Peacekeeping Battalion in March 2015 during a 30-day military to military exchange in Dushanbe, Tajikistan as part of the Virginia National Guard State Partnership Program. The main topics of the exchange included convoy operations, patrolling, checkpoint operations, Troop Leading Procedures, orders process, first aid, map reading, human rights awareness, and treatment of civilians on the battlefield. (Courtesy photo)

Four members of the Portsmouth-based 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment and one Soldier from the Danville-based 429th Brigade Support Battalion participated in the 30-day military to military exchange with the Tajik Peacekeeping Battalion. The team worked with 20 Tajik warrant officers, which are equivalent to U.S. NCOs, and junior officers at Shamsi Base.

“The intent of our mission was to conduct junior leader development and our focus was on the Peacekeeping Battalion’s mission to conduct peacekeeping operations in support of the United Nations,” said Capt. Paul Marcinko of the 2-183rd Cav. “The main topics of the exchange included convoy operations, patrolling, checkpoint operations, Troop Leading Procedures, orders process, first aid, map reading, human rights awareness, and treatment of civilians on the battlefield.”

This was the first visit to Tajikistan for all members of the team and, according to Marcinko, they were all very impressed with the Tajik soldiers, their level of professionalism, and their depth of tactical and technical knowledge.

In addition to Williams, a senior leader from the U.S. Central Command observed the 2-183rd Cavalry troops during their interactions with the Tajiks.

As a key U.S. security cooperation tool, the SPP demonstrates the strength of the National Guard on the global stage through the development of long-term relationships, facilitating cooperation across all aspects of international civil-military affairs and encouraging people-to-people ties at the state level.

The National Guard program began in 1991, with three Baltic nations. It has grown to 68 unique security partnerships involving 74 nations around the globe.

“With over 70 countries represented in the Guard’s State Partnership Programs, the Army and Air National Guard have developed unique and enduring relationships with many countries around the World,” Ferris said. “Our partnership with Tajikistan has provided great engagements with the Tajik Soldiers where we continually learn from each other and foster a relationship of long-term trust and friendship.”

The SPP between the Virginia National Guard and the Republic of Tajikistan began in 2003. Since then dozens of Virginia Guard Soldiers and hundreds of Tajik Soldiers have participated in the exchanges.

Additional reporting by Capt. Andrew Czaplicki