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NEWS | June 26, 2023

203rd RED HORSE conducts engineer exchange in Tajikistan

By Mike Vrabel | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs

Virginia National Guard Airmen assigned to the Virginia Beach-based 203rd Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers, 192nd Wing, conducted an engineer exchange with the Republic of Tajikistan June 5 - 9, 2023, at the Regional Explosive Hazards Training Center 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 Virginia delegation for the exchange consisted of Capt. Oscar Alonso, Chief Master Sgt. Karl Burnell and Tech. Sgt. Kim Powell. The trio worked with several Tajik agencies during the exchange, including the Tajikistan Ministry of Defense, Boarder Guards, National Guard and Ministry of Internal Affairs Special Police Force. Representatives from those agencies consisted of personnel with experience in explosive ordnance disposal and combat engineers. 

“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.”

During the exchange, the the teams shared technical training, best practices and lessons learned with their Tajikistan partners. The exchange focused 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,” stated 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 beneficial for the team of Airmen as well. 

“The engineer exchange was an amazing opportunity to discuss engineering techniques and applied real world scenarios with our Tajikistan counterparts,” stated Burnell. “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 benefitted from sharing subject matter expertise throughout 200 military-to-military engagements that help counter terrorism, deter violent extremism, expand emergency response capabilities, develop professionalism among leaders and staffs and promote shared values in national sovereignty and security.

Read more about the State Partnership Program at

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