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NEWS | June 23, 2023

Tennessee Airmen Train with Bulgarian Air Force Partners

By Staff Sgt. Brandon Keys, 134th Air Refueling Wing

BEZMER AIR BASE, Bulgaria - Airmen from the 134th Air Refueling Wing out of Knoxville, Tennessee, recently trained with Bulgarian firefighters on emergency response tactics at Bezmer Air Base, Bulgaria.

The Tennessee Air National Guard members are in Bulgaria as part of Thracian Sentry 23, a joint exercise with American, Bulgarian and Greek armed forces. 

For Tennessee firefighters and their Bulgarian counterparts, training regularly at the highest level is nothing new. But the lessons learned working together will make them stronger in the future.

“NATO has a very defined standard when it comes to a response to aircraft emergencies,” said Tech Sgt. Adam West. “What we’ve done is taken a little bit of what they do and a little bit of what they’ve done and we’ve bridged that together between one cohesive team.”

After testing preventative equipment and discussing fire mitigation strategies, the two partners gathered their gear and delivered water effectively and efficiently to their targets. Collaborating in this fashion was only made possible by both nations’ dedication to the best practices and procedures to tackle common obstacles.

“The opportunity to train with our allies in this environment was really a great experience,” said Master Sgt. Ryan Boyd. “Training with them allowed us to face challenges together, and that helps so much when you’re responding to any emergency.“

The Tennessee National Guard is in Bulgaria as part of Thracian Sentry 23, highlighting the 30-year partnership between the Bulgarian Ministry of Defense and the Tennessee National Guard under the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program. 

This training commemorates many years of military cooperation and increases the readiness of these NATO partners.

Tennessee and Bulgaria officially became partners in 1993, the same year the SPP began. The program has grown to include 88 partnerships with 100 nations.



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