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Tennessee National Guard Partners with Bulgarian Military

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Darrell Hamm and Lt. Col. Marlin Malone,
  • Tennessee National Guard Public Affairs Office

SOFIA, Bulgaria – The Tennessee Army and Air National Guard collaborated with their Bulgarian Military partners for Women, Peace and Security meetings June 19-23. 

The event was part of Thracian Sentry 23, a multinational exercise throughout Eastern Europe. It was also a celebration of the 30-year partnership between the Bulgarian Ministry of Defense and the Tennessee National Guard in the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program.

Women, Peace and Security, or WPS, is a global initiative that began in 2000 when the United Nations recognized the disproportionate effect of wartime violence on women and girls. Countries started implementing plans and programs to address the problem. 

The U.S. Congress passed The Women, Peace, and Security Act of 2017, which mandated WPS programs and charged the Department of Defense with implementation. It also acknowledged the critical roles women play in international peace and security efforts.

WPS calls for women’s meaningful participation in decision-making to ensure the safety and security of all genders around the globe. In the military, it is a framework operational planners use to account for gender differences and to examine the impact of military operations on different populations.

“Bulgaria participating in this WPS project is important because it’s our initial proof of concept and our first real application of the Women, Peace and Security agenda,” said Francisco Magallon, European Command’s WPS program manager. “And given that this year is also the 30th anniversary of the Tennessee National Guard and Bulgarian partnership, it’s a great year to make traction on this.”

The Tennessee National Guard’s delegation, European Command’s WPS program manager, and representatives from the Bulgarian Military came together to initiate a pilot program using the fundamentals of WPS to increase the recruitment and retention of women in the Bulgarian military. Bulgaria leads this collaborative effort, with a goal of setting a benchmark other states can replicate in their SPP partnerships with nations.

The week-long meeting produced plans for future engagements and workshops where the Tennessee Military Department and the Bulgarian Military will train together using principles from the WPS strategic plans. They identified barriers to women in the Bulgarian military and how to address them.

The Tennessee Air National Guard, recently recognized for its success at recruiting, will share best practices with the Ministry of Defense in Bulgaria at future workshops.

“Tennessee has partnered with European Command and the Bulgarian Ministry of Defense on the Women, Peace and Security initiative and this pilot program,” said Lt. Col. Linda Kieser, Tennessee’s WPS lead. “The purpose of this initiative is to maximize recruitment, retention and promoting of women into leadership positions. We are also preparing for the Theater Logistics Readiness training coming in 2025 in order to encourage more women into Bulgaria’s Joint Logistics Directorate.”