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NEWS | Feb. 27, 2024

229th MPs conduct checkpoint security exchange in Tajikistan

By Mike Vrabel | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs

Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Hanover-based 229th Military Police Company, 276th Engineer Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group conducted a border checkpoint military security exchange with the Republic of Tajikistan Feb. 19 - 23, 2024, in Dusti, 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. 

This exchange took place at the Dusti checkpoint on the border with Uzbekistan, where heavy traffic flows between the two nations. A team of four MP’s consisting one officer and three non-commissioned officers worked with their Tajik partners to improve their operations and to share insight on how the U.S. Army conducts their operations. The VNG MPs also took away lessons to help their own security operations moving forward. 

For Sgt. 1st Class Aaron Lund, it was his second time in Tajikistan for an exchange. 

“The ideas shared from the year prior to this year have changed dramatically,” said Lund, who was part of a similar exchange in 2023. “The Tajiks are very receptive to what we have to say and have plenty of questions. From what we learned from this exchange; we will have even more to offer in exchanges to come. We are extremely grateful for this opportunity.”

The 229th MP team participating in the exchange, led by 1st Lt. Nathanial Sides, averaged more than 15 years of law enforcement experience, according to Maj. Isaac Rivera, the VNG’s SPP director. Sgt. Kayla Austin shared her more than a decade of law enforcement experience, both as an MP and as a civilian with Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office. 

“As someone who has both military and civilian law enforcement experience, it was an honor to exchange ideas with the Tajiks,” said Austin. “I am hopeful the exchange was positive for the 229th MP soldiers and Tajik military as we learned a lot from one another. I am excited to take this experience back home to share with both my military and civilian partners.”

In July 2023, 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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