MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Three West Virginia National Guardsmen participated in the Women in Strategic Intelligence Seminar in Doha, Qatar, May 14-18.
Maj. Taylar Belfield and Tech. Sgt. Victoria Bagley, both assigned to the 167th Operations Support Squadron, and 1st Lt. Abbey Welborn, 111th Engineer Brigade, joined servicemembers and civilians from the Qatar Armed Forces, U.S. Central Command, U.S. Army Central and U.S. Air Forces Central for the event.
The three women presented information in their respective areas of expertise at the seminar.
Supporting the Department of Defense Women, Peace, and Security Strategic Framework and Implementation Plan, the seminar increased understanding of how strategy drives intelligence gathering, analysis, product development and decision making.
The seminar also provided an opportunity to build relationships between the West Virginia National Guard and the Qatari Armed Forces, partnered through the National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program.
The first day of the seminar focused on topics specific to women in, and working in support of, the military. The next three days, participants discussed intelligence topics, followed by a practical exercise on the final day.
“The experience of meeting these ladies who are trailblazers in their country, they’re very impressive women, it was the best all-around [temporary duty assignment],” Belfield said of engaging with the nearly 30 Qatari women who support the Ministry of Defense as civilian intelligence analysts.
The biggest takeaway for Bagley was the common ground they found with their Qatari counterparts as discussions bounced between personal and professional topics.
“We think we are so different based on culture, but there are so many similarities, especially when you’re focusing on gender. As soon as kids or family is mentioned, everyone wants to share their personal experiences,” Bagley said.
She noted the support the Qatari women have from their male coworkers, who recognize their value and see the unique perspective they bring to intelligence analysis.
“Qatar is forward-leaning in the Middle East when it comes to women and the workplace, and I think there’s so much value in having them as a state partner,” Belfield said.
The West Virginia National Guard and Qatar have partnered since 2018 through the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program. West Virginia Guard members helped their Qatari military partners prepare for and execute the FIFA World Cup in 2022. Most recently, West Virginia National Guard and Qatari military leaders met in Doha for a State Partnership Program engagement in March.