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News | April 5, 2023

Virginia National Guard, Tajikistan conduct SPP exchange

By Cotton Puryear Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office

DUSHANBE, Tajikistan – Virginia National Guard Soldiers shared infantry tactics and how to counter unmanned air systems with the Republic of Tajikistan March 7-11 in an information exchange as part of the Defense Department’s State Partnership Program. Virginia and Tajikistan have been partners under the program since 2003.

The infantry tactics exchange team, which included Soldiers assigned to the 1st Battalion, 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute, conducted the five-day event at a military installation in Dushanbe.

The team shared ideas, best practices and lessons learned with their Tajikistan partners. Master Sgt. Justin Owen, the noncommissioned officer in charge, said he was thrilled his NCOs got such a unique experience to train alongside foreign partners.

Sgt. 1st Class Matt Stemmler, an instructor with the 183rd RTI, shared his knowledge as an infantryman with 19 years of experience and four combat deployments. He said he looks forward to having more RTI instructors participate in foreign exchanges.

The countering unmanned air systems exchange focused on the employment of unmanned air systems, air space management and data collection. Virginia’s team included NCOs assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

The team shared ideas, best practices and lessons learned with their Tajikistan partners. Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Lashley and Sgt. 1st Class Michael Brooks said they were thrilled to be part of this unique experience with a foreign nation.

“It was very enlightening working with the Tajiks, and both of us benefitted from a shared understanding of mission planning during all unmanned air systems operations,” Lashley said.

Both Lashley and Brooks came to Tajikistan with a combination of 15 years of experience planning, executing and flying unmanned air systems. They used their knowledge to present the basics of flying unmanned air systems and flight patterns to multiple agencies within the Tajik government.