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NEWS | Aug. 3, 2023

VNG Soldiers conduct mountain warfare exchange in Tajikistan 

By Mike Vrabel | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs

Five Virginia National Guard Soldiers conducted a mountain warfare exchange with soldiers from the Republic of Tajikistan July 24-29, 2023, in Romit, 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 five-day exchange provided basic mountain warfare skills training for up to 30 Tajik soldiers. Led by Maj. Kevin Hoffman, the team covered multiple skills and techniques, including knot tying, rappelling, patrolling formations and ambush tactics. 

“Towards the end of the week, they oversaw and participated in a field exercise with their Tajik counterparts allowing them to practice the skills that were taught,” said Capt. Kevin Eddings, the VNG’s SPP coordinator. 

Hoffman was assisted by VNG Soldiers including 2nd Lt. Evan Gizzard, 1st Sgt. Daniel Timberlake, Staff Sgt. Alex Miller and Sgt. Fabian Orban. Using their years of combined experience, the VNG team was able to share skills, lessons learned and best practices with their Tajik partners. 

“It was truly fascinating to witness the dynamic exchange between our Soldiers and the Tajik forces,” said Hoffman. “Both sides exhibited a keen desire to learn and share knowledge and we successfully achieved our training objectives. The exchange was a great success and I look forward to maintaining this important strategic relationship with our Tajik partners.”

Hoffman said the Tajik Soldiers made a strong impression on his team. 

“Our training encompassed mountaineering skills and small unit tactics,” said Hoffman. “The Tajik’s mastery of mountain terrain was evident and impressed our guys.”

The exchange was conducted in Romit, situated in a mountainous region west of Tajikistan’s capital of Dushanbe. 

“This was the second time this exchange had been conducted in Romit and it went remarkably well considering some of the limitations,” said Eddins. “However, the hope is that exchanges like this will continue being a building block for future cooperation between the Tajikistan Ministry of Defense and the Virginia National Guard.” 

In July, the VNG and Tajikistan celebrated the 20th anniversary of their formal partnership in the State Partnership Program, which itself just celebrated its 30-year anniversary. The relationship has benefitted all parties, 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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