HORSHAM, Pa. - Strategic planning, capability sharing and future cooperation were the focus when leaders of the Lithuanian Air Force and the Pennsylvania Air National Guard’s 111th Attack Wing met at Biddle Air National Guard Base March 20.
Col. Antanas Matutis, Lithuanian Air Force commander, and his senior enlisted leader, Command Sgt. Maj. Alvydas Tamošiūnas, visited as part of a broader Department of Defense National Guard State Partnership Program tour hosted by Brig. Gen. Michael Regan, PAANG commander. Pennsylvania and Lithuania have been partners under the SPP program since 1993.
The NG SPP began 30 years ago after the breakup of the Soviet Union to help countries emerging from behind the Iron Curtain. It now pairs 100 nations with National Guards from every state, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories to increase regional security and advance U.S. interests.
The group will be visiting the Joint Force Headquarters at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, and other PAANG wings, including the 193rd Special Operations Wing in Harrisburg and the 171st Air Refueling Wing in Coraopolis.
The goal is to strengthen cooperation with Lithuania as part of the NG SPP, strategically plan military-to-military engagements, and tour Pennsylvania National Guard facilities and training areas.
The Lithuanian delegation was greeted at Biddle ANG Base by Col. Deane E. Thomey, commander, 111th ATKW; and his senior enlisted leader, Chief Master Sgt. Scott P. Woods. Also attending: Chief Master Sgt. Paul G. Frisco, state command chief of the PAANG; Capt. Nathaniel Curtis, State Partnership Program coordinator, Pennsylvania Army National Guard; and Master Sgt. Margarita Wiles from the 123rd Airlift Wing, Kentucky Air National Guard, who served as interpreter.
“The purpose of this visit is to further the security cooperation efforts between Lithuania and Pennsylvania in support of the State Partnership Program,” said Thomey. “We’re always looking for opportunities to train and work together to improve our interoperability, learn from each other and share our experiences and expertise.”
Members of the Lithuanian delegation received briefings from 111th ATKW leaders, toured key facilities at Biddle ANG Base and were treated to a local delicacy for lunch – the world-renowned Philadelphia cheesesteak.