ROMIT, Tajikistan - Five Virginia National Guard Soldiers conducted a mountain warfare exchange with soldiers from the Republic of Tajikistan July 24-29.
The five-day exchange in Romit supported the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program, in which Virginia and Tajikistan have been partners since 2003.
Led by Maj. Kevin Hoffman, the team covered basic mountain warfare skills for up to 30 Tajik soldiers, including knot tying, rappelling, patrolling formations and ambush tactics.
“Towards the end of the week, they oversaw and participated in a field exercise with their Tajik counterparts allowing them to practice the skills that were taught,” said Capt. Kevin Eddings, the VNG’s SPP coordinator.
Hoffman was assisted by VNG Soldiers, including 2nd Lt. Evan Gizzard, 1st Sgt. Daniel Timberlake, Staff Sgt. Alex Miller and Sgt. Fabian Orban. The VNG team shared skills, lessons learned and best practices with their Tajik partners.
“It was truly fascinating to witness the dynamic exchange between our Soldiers and the Tajik forces,” said Hoffman. “Both sides exhibited a keen desire to learn and share knowledge, and we successfully achieved our training objectives. The exchange was a great success and I look forward to maintaining this important strategic relationship with our Tajik partners.”
Hoffman said the Tajik soldiers made a strong impression on his team.
“Our training encompassed mountaineering skills and small-unit tactics,” said Hoffman. “The Tajik’s mastery of mountain terrain was evident and impressed our guys.”
The exchange was conducted in Romit, a mountainous region west of Tajikistan’s capital, Dushanbe.
“This was the second time this exchange had been conducted in Romit and it went remarkably well considering some of the limitations,” said Eddins. “However, the hope is that exchanges like this will continue being a building block for future cooperation between the Tajikistan Ministry of Defense and the Virginia National Guard.”
In July, the VNG and Tajikistan celebrated the 20th anniversary of their formal partnership in the State Partnership Program, which began 30 years ago. Virginia and Tajikistan have shared their expertise through 200 military-to-military engagements that counter terrorism, deter violent extremism, expand emergency response capabilities and promote shared values in national sovereignty and security.