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Fort Indiantown Gap hosts exchange with Lithuanian partners

By Lt. Col. Angela King-Sweigart | Pennsylvania National Guard | June 22, 2018

FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. - Soldiers assigned to Fort Indiantown Gap range control hosted Lithuanian range experts here June 7-15 to discuss sustainable range operations and training site management.

Sustainable ranges are those that maximize training availability and accessibility of ranges during normal and deployment surges,while not overtaxing resources.

The contingent of Lithuanian soldiers visited many of the ranges here as well as met with Fort Indiantown Gap staff members from: range operations, billeting, environmental, engineers and public affairs.

"We were able to share and learn the management and sustainment of ranges, training areas and the scheduling and operation of each," said Maj. Danius Misiuas, Lithuanian Land Forces training division.

The Lithuanian military has multiple range complexes and training areas that are used for both Lithuanian armed forces, as well as NATO allies, like Italy. Many similarities exist between the two nations including incorporating community activities. Installations in Lithuania are often opened to truffle gatherers, similar to Fort Indiantown Gap's outdoor recreation enthusiasts.

The Soldiers found the visit to be productive and valuable and are looking forward to additional opportunities together.

"To be able to work with the Lithuanian army, and apply that same drive and charisma abroad, is a great opportunity. We look forward to continuing this partnership, increasing capabilities at home and abroad," said Sgt. 1stClass William Lewis, range operations noncommissioned officer in charge.

Misiuas agreed. "We look forward to a continued, strong relationship and development of our operations for unit integration in training areas."

The visit was done as part of the Pennsylvania National Guard's State Partnership Program that celebrated its 25thanniversary this year. The State Partnership Program evolved from a 1991 U.S. European Command decision to set up the Joint Contact Team Program in the Baltic Region with Reserve component Soldiers and Airmen. A subsequent National Guard Bureau proposal paired U.S. states with three nations in 1993. The Pennsylvania National Guard and Lithuania were one of the first three nations and states to be paired.

Additional exchanges are planned for the future including a contingent of the 201stRapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers, 193rdSpecial Operations Wing, Pennsylvania Air National Guard traveling to a range complex in Lithuania later this year.

Fort Indiantown Gap is the busiest Army National Guard Training Center in the nation and is run by members of the Pennsylvania National Guard and Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.