TRAINING CENTER LEST, Slovakia - Approximately 20 Indiana National Guard members took part in an international exercise, known as Toxic Lance, in Slovakia in March.
Slovaks and Hoosiers who specialize in chemical, biological radiological or nuclear disasters conducted training in a simulated toxic chemical environment and gained confidence in their skills, equipment, techniques and procedures.
"This is why we have the State Partnership Program - to learn from each other. These are some of the finest Soldiers to work side by side with," said Master Sgt. Jeffery B. Jackson, the operations noncommissioned officer for the Indiana National Guard's emergency response force package.
Jackson and soldiers with the 438th Chemical Company became a part of the Slovak soldiers' units. During the two-week exercise, the Slovaks and the Hoosiers overcame language and communication barriers to learn each other's procedures and capabilities.
"Every day the integration of the U.S. Soldiers into their respective platoons improved to the point where they were working together effectively and efficiently," said Jackson.
Hoosier Guard members praised their Slovak counterparts, especially in the realm of weapons of mass destruction – chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear.
"The Slovak army is recognized as one of the world leaders in CBRN defense, so it's an honor to train alongside Slovak soldiers," said Maj. Ryan Core, the operations officer for the Indiana National Guard's emergency response force package.
Hoosiers and Slovaks have trained side-by-side and learned from each other for more than 20 years as a part of the National Guard's enduring State Partnership Program.
"Every time we train alongside our Slovak partners, it helps us improve our interoperability, strengthens our relationship and reinforces our associations across Europe," said Maj. Gen. Courtney P. Carr, Indiana's adjutant general.
Through cooperative training exercises and key-leadership engagements, military forces from Slovakia and Indiana build lasting relationships, enhance capabilities and increase cultural awareness.