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203rd RED HORSE Conducts Engineer Exchange in Tajikistan

  • Published
  • By Mike Vrabel,
  • Virginia National Guard Public Affairs

DUSHANBE, Tajikistan – Virginia National Guard Airmen assigned to the 203rd Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers, 192nd Wing, conducted an engineer exchange with the Republic of Tajikistan June 5-9.

The exchange at the Regional Explosive Hazards Training Center in Dushanbe supported the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program, in which Virginia and Tajikistan have been partners since 2003.

The Virginia delegation included Capt. Oscar Alonso, Chief Master Sgt. Karl Burnell and Tech. Sgt. Kim Powell. The trio worked with several Tajik agencies, including the Tajikistan Ministry of Defense, Boarder Guards, National Guard and Ministry of Internal Affairs Special Police Force. Tajik representatives included combat engineers and personnel with experience in explosive ordnance disposal. 

“The exchange was an incredible opportunity to share technical training and practical experience with our Tajikistan partners,” said Alonso. “Meeting our counterparts and touring the city has given me an appreciation for their culture and our state partnership. I appreciate the opportunity to support and strengthen the Virginia National Guard’s partnership with Tajikistan.”

The teams shared technical training and best practices, focusing on passive defense measures, defensive fighting positions and crater repairs.

The Tajik personnel said they were grateful to participate in the exchange with the RED HORSE. 

“It is apparent that the RED HORSE members are subject matter experts in their field,” said Tajik Lt. Col.  Mirsaidov Khurshed. “Having great translators allowed us to engage in practical and technical dialogue regarding both theory and real-world experiences.”

The exchange was also beneficial for the team of Airmen. 

“The engineer exchange was an amazing opportunity to discuss engineering techniques and applied real-world scenarios with our Tajikistan counterparts,” Burnell said. “The exchange of information and experiences will undoubtedly help both groups as we prepare for future military engineering operations.”

In July, the VNG and Tajikistan will celebrate the 20th anniversary of their formal partnership in the State Partnership Program. The relationship has included 200 military-to-military engagements that help counter terrorism, deter violent extremism, expand emergency response capabilities, develop professionalism and promote shared values.

The State Partnership Program began 30 years ago, in 1993, and now includes 88 partnerships with 100 nations.