Dushanbe, Tajikistan (Feb. 28, 2007) - The saying "old habits never die" could be a good way to describe the current Tajikistan Soviet-style run military. From its troop-leading procedures to its training methods, it's a trend they're slowly continuing to improve on.
As part of that process, 30 soldiers representing four departments of the Tajikistan National Army gathered here to hone their skills and learn new levels of leadership as part of a Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development information exchange with U.S. Soldiers assigned to the 1st Battalion, 183rd Regimental Training Institute, Virginia National Guard.
The two-week program, which concluded today with a field training exercise, is facilitated by the Atlanta-based Third Army, U.S. Army Central Civil-Military Affairs section. Third Army works with nations from the Horn of Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia to organize military training exchanges through its Theater Security Cooperation program.
For this military exchange, the Virginia-based troops give young Tajik NCOs and cadets a first-hand look about the responsibilities of the U.S. Army NCO system. The NCO Corps depends on its senior enlisted personnel training their subordinates on day-to-day operations as well the overall military picture. Currently, the Tajik Army puts all responsibilities on its officers to train its soldiers on all aspects of the Army.
With help from translators, Tajik soldiers are taught on a number of NCO duties such as leadership, responsibilities, individual movement techniques, team movement drills and reacting to enemy forces.
According to Virginia National Guardsman Maj. Neal Edmonds, the establishment of an NCO Corps to the Tajik Army is a slow process that will take time.
"It will take them [Tajik soldiers] a period to adjust to this type of structure," he said. "I think we have a good partnership, and the Tajik leadership is dedicated to making this system work for them."
For the past three years, Edmonds has been the coordinator for the Virginia National Guard-Tajikistan state partnership for peace program. He works with Tajik officials to synchronize training events and other exchanges between the two.
For Virginia National Guardsman Staff Sgt. Todd Payne this is his third NCOPD. He said it presents the chance to teach and influence a foreign military in something he cherishes.
"It would be a thrill for me if they would one day develop the NCO system," said the native of Amagrst, Va. "To think I was part of helping them build an NCO Corps would be an honor."
For Tajik junior Sgt. Bobur Mahmador, assigned to the Tajik National Guard, the chance to work with American NCOs was an experience to remember.
"They have been teaching us new and useful information that I want to pass down to my soldiers," said Mahmador. "Because of this training, I have already started my own training program to take back to my unit."
The information exchange between the two nations will continue until 2012, and in the eyes of Edmonds the future is only getting brighter.
"I really see them building an NCO Corps," he said. "It is just a matter of time and precedence."
An advanced NCOPD is scheduled in May. The class will have returning graduates of prior NCOPD classes, and will stress on the roles of an NCO into a force.