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NEWS | May 22, 2014

Arizona, Kazakhstan Soldiers exchange vehicle maintenance ideas

By Sgt. Crystal Reidy Arizona National Guard

PHOENIX - Arizona Army National Guard members and Soldiers from the Republic of Kazakhstan participated in a light utility vehicle maintenance information exchange here May 12 - 16 - part of their long-standing relationship as state partners.

Since 1994, the Arizona National Guard has partnered with Kazakhstan via the National Guard Bureau's State Partnership Program - exchanging information and people for the purpose of fostering mutual interests and long-term relationships.

The 40-hour maintenance information exchange between the two armies addressed how each organization conducts driver training, maintenance, record keeping, trouble shooting and licensing.

"It is always important in the maintenance field to get a new perspective. It keeps us on the cutting edge," said Army Capt. Federico Vazquez, operations officer in charge, 158th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion.

"The exchange of ideas is a two-way street," Vazquez said. "The 10 Kazakh Soldiers here this week - two officers and eight enlisted - may have ideas we haven't thought of and vice versa."

A major point of discussion was the United States Army's philosophy to push field maintenance as close as possible to combat units whereas the Kazakhstan Army uses a centralized maintenance team that dispatches small teams to broken-down vehicles.

"We have the same goal, to get our Humvees up and back into the fight," Vazquez said. "We just have different ways to achieve the goal."

To prepare for the exchange, five Guard members worked with interpreters prior to the visitors' arrival to go over curriculum and ensure understanding of maintenance concepts.

"It has been a very positive interaction and a great experience working with our Kazakh counterparts," Vazquez said.

The Kazakhstan Soldiers agreed the event was beneficial.

"It has been a high-level, quality experience and we are happy to receive the information," said Staff Sgt. Dumon Moldrakhman, head mechanic for the Kazakhstan Army at the only Humvee center in Central Asia.

This trip is Moldrakhman's seventh to Arizona under the State Partnership Program. He attributes the program's success to his Arizona counterparts.

"Our Humvees are all capable and mission ready thanks to the information we have received from the Arizona Army National Guard," Moldrakhman said.