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News | March 14, 2022

VNG conducts infantry tactics, unmanned air system exchanges in Tajikistan

By Cotton Puryear | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office

Virginia National Guard Soldiers conducted an infantry tactics exchange and countering unmanned air systems exchange with the Republic of Tajikistan March 7-11, 2022, in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. They were conducted in support of the Department of Defense’s State Partnership Program, in which Virginia and Tajikistan have been partners since 2003.

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

As part of the exchange, 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.

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

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

As part of the exchange, 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. Their hope is that this will be a building block for future exchanges.

“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 come to Tajikistan with a combination of 15 years of experience planning, executing and flying unmanned air systems.  They utilized their knowledge to present the basics of flying unmanned air systems and flight patterns to multiple agencies within the Tajik government.