GORNA MALINA, Bulgaria – The Tennessee National Guard partnered with the Bulgarian Military’s Joint Forces Command to command and control Soldiers, Airmen, equipment and aircraft during the Thracian Sentry 23 exercise June 12-23.
In a remote facility in the hills of Bulgaria, members of the two military organizations collaborated to form an operations center to control and lead the ongoing exercise. Staff included service members representing personnel, logistics, communications, operations, weather and intelligence as they provided real-time data to leaders.
“It’s called the State Partnership Program, and that is what we want to be, a great partner,” said Col. Jay Jackson, director of staff, Tennessee Air National Guard. “We want to be a state National Guard that the Bulgarian military can rely on, and vice versa. We want to be a training partner and friend in time of peace that is just a phone call away in time of emergency.”
The Tennesseans working in the operations center are members of the state’s Joint Adaptive Battle staff who recently worked events like hurricane response, the COVID-19 pandemic, tornadoes and flooding.
“Tennessee and Bulgaria are two professional organizations with differing organizational skills,” said Jackson. “Everyone here is learning varying techniques that we will both be able to take back to our home units and make our militaries better.”
Throughout the exercise, staff members learned from one another while providing quality, timely and effective data to military leaders. The information included weather tracking, troop movement, plans, local flooding and aircraft movement. Also highlighted were online collaboration tools for future exercises and emergencies.
One of the more complex elements of the exercise was the use of the U.S. Air Force’s new doctrine, Agile Combat Employment. It redefines how the U.S. Air Force prepares, positions and projects capabilities across the globe. This exercise allowed Tennessee and Bulgaria to practice ACE.
Tennessee and Bulgaria have been partners under the State Partnership Program since 1993. In its 30-year history, the program has grown to include 88 partnerships with 100 nations.