CHEYENNE, Wyo. – The Wyoming National Guard hosted an Aviation Familiarization (FAM) with the Tunisian Air Force Sept. 13-25 as part of the National Guard's State Partnership Program (SPP).
The Wyoming Guard and Tunisia have been partners since 2004. This event is the first time in nine months they have been able to get together for a subject matter expert exchange.
The SPP, pairing state National Guards with countries worldwide, has been going strong for over 25 years. States partner with nations based on size, location and mission. Tunisia shares similarities with Wyoming, including tourism, economic interests and military equipment.
"The State Partnership Program is a DOD (Department of Defense) security cooperation program run by the National Guard Bureau and executed by each state. We have enduring partnerships with countries across the globe," says Maj. William Lindmier, SPP director for Wyoming.
The Guard welcomed the Tunisian members Sept. 14 at the Joint Force Readiness Center. The two-week event included familiarization in helicopter and C-130 maintenance, aerial firefighting, search and rescue and domestic response. Other areas included aeromedical evacuation, response to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive hazards, and a medical program at the Wyoming State Lab, Cheyenne VA Hospital, and a Northern Colorado COVID-19 response hospital.
The 13 Tunisian members consisted of C-130 and UH-60 pilots and two doctors from the Tunisian Medical Corps. The event revolved around subject matter expert exchanges with the 84th Civil Support Team and 153rd Air Wing at the Wyoming Air Guard and the Army Aviation Support Facility on F.E. Warren AFB. All these visits included academic and practical exercises.
"They will be conducting a series of events rotating around the UH-60M helicopter and the C-130 Hercules airframes. These events are really a culmination of a series that were canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions through the course of the summer," said Lindmier.
Lindmier said the events are mutually beneficial. "When we work side by side, we find that both agencies improve as we learn tactics, techniques and procedures from our Tunisian counterparts."
Lt. Col. Ramzi Ridene, the Tunisian commander, praised the program and said he looked forward to more cooperation and enhanced exchanges.
"I want to thank the Wyoming National Guard leadership and whole team for their hospitality and the wealth of shared experiences," Ridene said.
The Tunisians experienced Wyoming culture with a tour of the State Museum and the State Capitol. They watched the Laramie County Community College Rodeo and visited Curt Gowdy State Park and the Vedauwoo Recreation Area.
Lindmier said the exchange was good at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is making it difficult to maintain relationships and contact with friends, families and international partners.
"It makes it that much more important that we are fortunate to conduct this type of event with our international partners, to maintain these enduring relationships that have lasted so long, with hopes that they will continue to be great partners for years and years to come," he said.