FORT PICKETT, Va. — Officers from the Tajikistan Ministry of Defense who specialize in chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives response operations conducted an information exchange with personnel for the Virginia National Guard’s 34th Civil Support Team Feb. 21-22, 2017, at Fort Pickett, Virginia. The exchange was part of the National Guard’s State Partnership Program that links states and partner nations in support of mutual interests, and their visit also included a tour of the Virginia Emergency Operations Center and meeting with officials from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.
Established in 2003, the goal of the State Partnership Program is to establish broad reaching, friendly ties between partner states and partner countries at all levels of society utilizing the National Guard as the catalyzing force and means of support. September 2016 marked the 25th anniversary of Tajikistan’s independence, and the partnership between the Virginia National Guard and Tajikistan is in its 14th year.
As part of the SPP, the Virginia National Guard regularly conducts information exchanges on a variety of subjects related to security and emergency response operations. The Guard also facilitates trips from Tajikistani officials to the United States.
For example, three members of the Tajikistan Ministry of Defense and two members of the Embassy of Tajikistan to the United States of America visited Virginia and Washington, D.C. July 15-18, 2016. During their trip, they met with members of the Virginia National Guard, the National Guard Bureau, the State Department and the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy.
“For years we have worked with Tajikistan, and we have sent some of our best and brightest over there to share their knowledge and experience, but this year we had the great opportunity to bring their senior leaders to Virginia,” said Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia. “Showing them the kind of units and installations we have as well as the training we conduct gives them a better understanding of where we can partner.”
The five members of the delegation visited Fort Pickett, the Virginia National Guard Joint Operations Center in Sandston and Washington D.C. where they had the opportunity to visit training facilities, multiple ranges and national landmarks. They also had the opportunity to conduct strategic meetings with other critical United States senior leaders.
Virginia National Guard senior leaders take an active role in the SPP. Brig. Gen. Paul F. Griffin, the Virginia National Guard Director of the Joint Staff, traveled to Dushanbe for a senior leader visit last year, meeting with the Office of Military Cooperation. The MOC assists with planning and executing partnership activities, and facilitated meetings with Griffin and the ambassador of Tajikistan as well as key Ministry of Defense Officials.
The 34th CST is comprised of 22 full-time Army and Air National Guard personnel with the mission to support civil authorities at a domestic CBRNE incident site with identification and assessment of hazards, advice to civil authorities, and facilitating the arrival of follow-on military forces during emergencies and incidents of weapons of mass destruction terrorism.
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