DUSHANBE, Tajikistan –
Virginia National Guard Soldiers recently completed a counter-improvised explosive devices exchange and a medical infantry tactics exchange with soldiers and representatives from the Republic of Tajikistan in June and July 2022.
The exchanges were conducted in support of the Department of Defense’s State Partnership Program, in which Virginia and Tajikistan have been partners since 2003.
In Dushanbe, three VNG Soldiers assigned to the Fredericksburg-based 229th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, conducted the counter-IED exchange with 20 Tajik soldiers, sharing ideas, best practices and lessons learned. Multiple agencies within the Tajik military participated in the exchange, which focused on finding and neutralizing IEDs.
Sergeant 1st. Class Mark Culbertson and Sgt. Garrett Roche brought 20 years of experience identifying and disarming IEDs to the event, according to VNG SPP officer 1st Lt. Kevin Eddins.
“They utilized their engineering knowledge to present a very engaging exchange,” said Eddins.
During the exchange, the team answered a multitude of questions about the topic and even set up lanes to grade their Tajik colleagues.
“Coming to this exchange has been very eye-opening,” said Spc. Haley Stoneman. “I've had a great time learning about the culture and interacting with our Tajik partners."
In June 2022, another team of VNG Soldiers conducted a medical infantry tactics exchange with representatives from Tajikistan. The team of four was comprised of Soldiers assigned to the Charlottesville-based Charlie Company, 429th Brigade Support Battalion, 116th IBCT, the Petersburg-based 276th Engineer Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group, and the Fort Pickett-based VNG Medical Command.
The four VNG medics exchanged new standards of Tactical Combat Casualty Care, using their extensive experience to help share information with Tajik men and women with experience ranging from medical doctors specializing in cardiology and neurology, law enforcement and nurses along their borders.
“It was very exciting and fulfilling working with the Tajiks. All of us benefitted from a shared understanding of self-aid and ‘buddy’ aid while ensuring mission completion,” said Sgt. Judy Bush, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the VNG medics participating in the exchange. “This training was not intended to change the Tajik’s or American medical planning and training, but exchange ideas and information to better enhance future endeavors during combat and non-combat exercises.”
Bush said she was thrilled the Soldiers got such a unique experience to train alongside foreign medical partners, and said she looks forward to having more instructors participate in foreign exchanges in the near future.