DUSHANBE, Tajikistan – Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the 229th Chemical Company, 1030th Transportation Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group, conducted a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives exchange with the Committee of Emergency Services of the Republic of Tajikistan.
The exchange was conducted Dec. 5-9 as part of the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program, in which Virginia and Tajikistan have been partners since 2003.
The State Partnership Program began in 1993 with 13 partners. Thirty years later, the program has grown to 95 partner nations and is a key U.S. security cooperation tool that facilitates collaboration across all aspects of civil-military affairs.
The Virginia Guard team shared ideas, best practices and lessons learned with their Tajikistan partners. The exchange focused on sharing monitoring, sampling, packaging and decontamination techniques pertinent to CBRN defense. The week culminated with ambulatory and non-ambulatory decontamination exercises.
The Virginia delegation for the exchange included 1st Lt. Jennifer Hartman and Staff Sgt. Breanne Hamblin, both assigned to the 229th Chemical Company. Tajikistan security personnel, lab technicians and lab Ph.D. professionals participated.
Hartman and Hamblin said the experience was well worth the trip.
“The exchange was an incredible opportunity to share experiences and ideas with our Tajikistan partners,” said Hartman. “The transparency of ideas and culture was mutually beneficial for all parties involved. This training was not intended to change the Tajik or American concept of CBRN defense, but exchange ideas and information to better prepare for future CBRN defense exercises and training.”
Hamblin echoed Hartman’s sentiments.
“The work we do as CBRN is so important and this information exchange was appreciated by both parties,” said Hamblin. “Meeting the locals and walking about the town has really given me an appreciation for their culture. I take pride in knowing I was able to make a difference and build some strong relationships. I will never forget the lifelong memories this trip has provided me.”
Maj. Isaac Rivera Ortiz, State Partnership Program director, said Hamblin shared her CBRN knowledge with the participants from Tajikistan.
“Staff Sgt. Hamblin was instrumental in demonstrating best practices related to sampling and packaging, providing creative hands-on demonstrations for participants and actively engaging in group activities,” he said.
“I also want to express deep gratitude to all who made this happen behind the scenes in the Virginia National Guard and the U.S. Embassy in Dushanbe, Tajikistan,” added Hamblin.