HARRISBURG, Pa. - The State Partnership Program relationship between the Lithuanian army and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard continued to evolve and strengthen through a staff exchange held July 19-27 at Fort Indiantown Gap in Annville, Pa. Thirteen Lithuanian Land Forces Army leaders visited the Guard training base to meet with their 28th Infantry Division counterparts.

The leaders further developed staff-to-staff relationships and interoperability between the 28th and the developing Lithuanian Division staff of the Lithuanian Land Forces by discussing doctrine and the purpose and task of various division-level positions. LLF representatives participated in several briefings and observed the 28 ID officers in their roles during the Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion's annual training.

Roughly half of the visiting group has been to Pennsylvania before. Later this year, 28 ID planners will travel to Lithuania for development of a long-range training plan. Lithuanian Land Forces Army Col. Zilvinas Gaubys, said this exchange is the latest step in preparing the division for participation in the upcoming U.S. Army Europe exercise. This exercise tests echelons-above-brigade units in operational-level warfighting.

"The end state is Lithuanian Land Forces is going to participate in the Defender 2020 Exercise next year," said Gaubys. "We see the 28th as friends who can help us lift our professional knowledge to be ready for that exercise."

"This is not us telling anyone how to do things," said Col. Andrew Inch, the 28th's Chief of Staff. "Our partnership enables us to learn from each other and sharpen skills in operations and training."

The staff exchange included a visit with U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Anthony Carrelli, The Adjutant General of Pennsylvania; and an official dinner with Maj. Gen. Andrew Schafer, 28th Infantry Division commander. The Lithuanians also participated in a staff ride to the nearby Gettysburg battlefield.

Col. Ted Little, Assistant Adjutant General of Pennsylvania, led the Gettysburg tour and provided insights and stories about the three days of fighting, July 1-3, 1863, that changed the course of the Civil War. The group discussed the progress of the battle and the decisions made by the Union and Confederate commanders at various stops along Seminary and Cemetery ridges.

"The intent was to introduce the Lithuanian staff to the battle and the key decisions that were made to relate it to division operations, and give them tactical examples," Little said.

Little, a Gettysburg University alum, teaches history to eighth-grade students at Allen Middle School in Cumberland County and brings his class to the battlefield each year.

He concluded the tour with a stop at the Pennsylvania monument. Speaking near the high-water mark of the Confederacy, he explained how the after-effects of the Civil War rippled through American society and said Americans and Lithuanians share a desire to preserve their histories.

"The blood spilled on this field lubricated the freedoms we have here today," Little said. "This park is a living schoolhouse."