By Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Nicole Manzanares
140th Wing Public Affairs
FORT CARSON, Colo. (12/13/12) – For more than a week in November, two Slovenian armed forces members visited Colorado National Guard and active duty military ranges to procure styles, ideas and techniques on revamping their ranges in Slovenia.
Colorado Air National Guardsmen guided Slovenian counterparts on a tour around the 140th Wing Airburst Range and discussed ideas on how to establish a similar range in Slovenia.
The goal for Slovenian armed forces is to build ranges like the ones operated in Colorado in order for NATO nations and European countries to conduct combined training on ground and air-to-ground tactics in the European theater.
"Our main goal is to upgrade our current range so that it will accommodate more advanced air-to-ground training," said Slovenian Armed Forces member Sgt. 1st Class Darko R. Roth, training noncommissioned officer.
Roth sees the Slovenian range program and enhanced capabilities, as a long-term project, with a full-time, active range online in the next five years. Colorado Air National Guard Airburst Range members helped them to understand the realizations of this project.
Lt. Col. John Stevenson, 140th Operation Support Squadron Airburst Range commander, briefed them on equipment, supplies, safety and perhaps most important, the imagination required to make a range work.
"We are an Air National Guard range national asset," Stevenson said. "We train everybody and we basically run the whole gamut of air and ground operations."
*quot;Some of the best ranges do come from the U.S., and because of our State Partnership Program, we were able to get a lot of ideas, a lot of knowledge and we have learned about setting up the range for current training and all of the future endeavors that are coming," said Roth.
Roth, along with Capt. Mitja Lipovsek, toured the Colorado Army National Guard's Central Training Site on Fort Carson where they received a comprehensive brief and tour of all Fort Carson facilities provided by Fort Carson's range control director.
The Slovenian military has roughly 7,500 troops who will participate in exercises at the Slovenian Pocek range along with interested militaries from other NATO and European countries.
This engagement was part of the National Guard's State Partnership Program. SPP is an innovative Department of Defense joint security cooperation program, managed by the National Guard Bureau and implemented by the state adjutants gen`eral in support of combatant commanders' security cooperation objectives and ambassador country plans under the authorities provided by the DoD and Congress.
The CONG and the Republic of Slovenia have been partner nations since 1993, when the program began. In addition to many other milestones in the program, Citizen-Soldiers from the CONG and soldiers from Slovenia have deployed together many times as members of the Operational Mentor Liaison Teams, now called Military Assistance Teams, to help train soldiers of the Afghan National Army.
In January 2013, the latest of six CONG-Slovenian teams is scheduled to deploy for this mission; a recognition of the success as Colorado and Slovenia celebrate the 20th anniversary of their partnership.
Nearly 20 National Guard states have deployed with their SPP partners to Iraq and Afghanistan.