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NEWS | March 17, 2022

Nebraska Guard shares NCO leadership in Rwanda SPP exchange

By Airman 1st Class Alexander Schriner, 155th Air Refueling Wing, Nebraska Air National Guard

LINCOLN AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. – One Airman and three Soldiers from the Nebraska National Guard participated in a noncommissioned officer training exchange with the Rwanda Defence Force in Gabiro, Rwanda.

The partnership between Nebraska and Rwanda was established in December 2019 under the National Guard State Partnership Program. This partnership enables the exchange of different training methods and peacekeeping and readiness strategies.

“For this visit, we wanted to focus on starting and building the relationship between our NCO Academy and theirs,” said Sgt. 1st Class Tony Franklin, an instructor with the 209th Regiment (Regional Training Institute) at Camp Ashland, Nebraska. “Other desired outcomes were to develop an understanding of how their NCOs are engaged in training and see what some of their duties and responsibilities are in the RDF.”

The relationship with Rwanda has allowed for growth and understanding of each other’s capabilities and future for the Rwanda and Nebraska partnership. The partnership will continue to flourish as more exchanges like these emerge.

Master Sgt. Frank Holman, 155th Civil Engineer Squadron HVAC supervisor, was the Airman who participated in the Feb. 7-10 exchange.

“We met with the RDF and went over what we wanted to learn from them and vice versa,” Holman said. “The NCO exchange was equivalent to professional military education (PME).”

NCO training and education focus on leadership, management and service-specific and combat training. Opportunities like these help both sides strengthen their international relationship and assess needs.

“The 155th Air Refueling Wing has a great role in the State Partnership Program. We both get similar value out of the program and a different perspective on how to operate,” said Col. John Williams, 155th Air Refueling Wing commander. “In some cases, it’s very specific training that we’re looking at, and in other cases, it’s a general understanding of each other’s limitations and our culture.”

Learning about Rwanda is the first step Franklin took when he arrived.

“I learned that they want to expand their NCO education system at the organizational and strategic level of leadership,” Franklin said. “There are a lot of similarities between our NCO PME system and theirs. Many of the concepts that we teach in our courses are also taught in their different levels of NCO PME.”

After helping RDF members and teaching them what he knew, Holman said the trip was a great learning moment.

“I would recommend to take it if anyone ever gets the opportunity for a State Partnership Program project,” Holman said. “The experience of being in a different country, learning their military, and furthering the mission is a fulfilling experience.”