PHOENIX -- The Arizona National Guard hosted five members of the Armed Forces from the Republic of Kazakhstan for a week-long vehicle maintenance exchange at the Papago Park Military Reservation July 15-19.

The Arizona National Guard and the Central Asian nation of Kazakhstan share an enduring 26-year relationship through the State Partnership Program; a United States Department of Defense initiative that links selected state Guards with strategic military partners across the globe to foster long-term, international relations.

"The Arizona Guard is extremely proud of the partnership we have maintained with Kazakhstan," said Major Pete Caffrey, State Partnership Coordinator for the Arizona National Guard. "Not only do both countries benefit from the valuable information exchanged militarily, but culturally as well."

During this week-long maintenance exchange, wheeled vehicle mechanics from both countries explained how they conduct fleet maintenance operations, parts and tools supply logistics and manage personnel and facilities that support maintenance functions.

"I can speak for everyone on our team when I say that working alongside the Kazakhs during this exchange has been one of the most interesting events of my career," said Master Sgt. Joel Arvizu, Noncommissioned Officer-In-Charge of the Combined Support Maintenance Shop exchange team.

"Both of our teams have worked so well together and the sharing of best practices between us really makes me look forward to more exchanges in the future."

Previous partnership visits to Arizona included Army aviation operations, military police training, and non-commissioned officer development programs. Members of the Arizona Guard have also visited Kazakhstan to participate in Exercise Steppe Eagle, an annual multinational training exercise focused on peacekeeping and peace support operations.

Aside from the exchange of military capabilities, the Arizona National Guard also provides mission support techniques related to disaster response, border and aviation security, and counter narcotics trafficking. These mission capabilities, not commonly found in the active duty component, make the National Guard the ideal choice for this program.