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NEWS | July 20, 2016

Tajikistan senior leaders visit Virginia, Washington, D. C.

By Maj. Jenny Hartsock | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs

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, as part of the National Guard State Partnership Program. 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.”

Williams stressed that something as simple as sharing a meal together helps build the bonds of mutual trust and respect that improves the strength of the partnership between Virginia and the Republic of Tajikistan. Among the visiting delegates, included Maj. Gen. Mirali Rahmatzoda, Commander of the Mobile Forces for the Tajikistan Ministry of Defense, who visited the United States for the first time.

“The strong relationship with Tajikistan is due in part to efforts from the State Partnership for Program,” said Col. Michelle Rose, Virginia National Guard Director of Strategic Plans. The partnership between Virginia and the Republic of Tajikistan was formally established in 2003.

“It’s obvious from the great relationship we have with the Tajiks that the State Partnership Program has come a long way since its inception,“ Rose said. “Just over the past five years, the senior leadership in the Tajikistan Ministry of Defense have noted that the support from the Virginia Guard assisting them with partnerships in infantry tactics, route clearance and CBRNE operations have been very helpful.”

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.

“Senior leader visits are important because what they learn helps steer the direction of organization,” said Brig. Gen. Paul Griffin, Director of the Virginia National Guard Joint Staff. “There is no substitute for getting on the ground and seeing what’s going on.”

The National Guard’s State Partnership Program links states and partner nations in support of mutual interests. The goal of the 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.

The State Partnership for Program is designed to be mutually beneficial for the governments involved. Some of the focus areas for the Virginia-Tajikistan security cooperation include medical exchanges, noncommissioned officer development and education, civil support team development, boarder security, peacekeeping operations development and emergency preparedness and disaster response.

“We plan on continuing this relationship in the future, especially in the area of disaster relief operation,” Rose said. “The future is bright for this partnership and I see it only going up in the number of international engagements in regional exercises and assisting Tajikistan Mobility Forces in participating in peacekeeping operations, all while protecting their homeland.”

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