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NEWS | March 7, 2023

VNG Soldiers conduct infantry exchange in Tajikistan

By Mike Vrabel | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office

Three Virginia National Guard Soldiers conducted an advanced infantry tactics exchange with soldiers and representatives from the Republic of Tajikistan Feb. 26 - March 2, 2023, in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. The exchange was conducted in support of the Department of Defense’s State Partnership Program, in which Virginia and Tajikistan have been partners since 2003. 

The VNG Soldiers, assigned to the Fort Pickett-based 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute, conducted the exchange, discussing patrolling formations, military operations in urban terrain and the operations order process. The VNG Soldiers shared their ideas, best practices and lessons learned with their Tajik partners. 

The VNG team conducting the exchange included Master Sgt. Justin Owen, Master Sgt. Benjamin Lehmer and Sgt. 1st Class Matt Stemmler. Together the three RTI instructors brought decades-worth of experience and insight into the exchange. 

“All three instructors came to Tajikistan with a combination of 55 years of infantry experience, and all have had some deployment overseas experience,” said 1st Lt. Kevin Eddins, the VNG’s State Partnership Program coordinator. “Their unique perspective and experience brought together a unique set of skill sets that helped forge a beneficial exchange for both Virginia National Guard Soldiers and the Tajik military.”

Owen, the lead instructor for the exchange, said the experience was beneficial for the VNG team as well. 

“The exchange was a neat experience working with the different branches of the Tajik government, because they all brought different perspectives on infantry tactics,” said Owen. 

“The advanced infantry tactics exchange would not have been a success without the support and necessary supplies provided by the Regional Security Office and Special Forces Liaison Element at the U.S. Embassy in Dushanbe,” added Eddins. 

Read more news about the State Partnership Program at

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