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NEWS | Feb. 4, 2022

Alaska National Guard, Mongolia conduct SPP expert exchange

By Spc. Grace Nechanicky, Alaska National Guard Public Affairs

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska – The Alaska National Guard participated in the second iteration of the Airmen-to-Airmen Talks program with the Mongolian Air Force to plan for future training and subject matter expert exchanges.

Hosted by the U.S. Pacific Air Force, the A2AT program develops interoperability, fosters military-to-military relations, and improves bilateral cooperation. The United States and partner nation air forces conduct these engagements to plan for collaborative activities and discuss common goals.

The program is tied to the National Guard’s State Partnership Program, which has paired Alaska and Mongolia as partners since 2003. The National Guard participates with other militaries to support defense security goals via the SPP. 

“[A2AT] gives each of our different components the opportunity to learn best practices from each other,” said Chief Master Sgt. Mike Keegan, chief enlisted manager for the 176th Civil Engineer Squadron and participant in the latest engagement in November. “For Alaska Guardsmen, it’s an opportunity to participate in missions outside of their country, outside of their state, that ties directly into their [career] skills training.”

Keegan said the Alaska Guard worked alongside with the Mongolian Air Force on engineering and logistics skills. The Mongolian Air Force is relatively new and uses the partnership to improve efficiency.

Alaska and Mongolia first participated in A2AT in Hawaii in March 2019.

For the 2021 A2AT, U.S. and Mongolian military members participated in five working group topics: exercises and engagements, logistics, professionalization and education, medical, and high-level visit.

Keegan, part of the logistics group, said members discussed best practices, subject matter expert exchanges, airfield operations, security forces and search and rescue. The Mongolian Air Force is particularly interested in rescue capabilities and looks to the Alaska Air National Guard’s search and rescue assets for guidance.

The Alaska Guard and Mongolian Air Force agreed to conduct subject matter expert exchanges and official visits in Alaska and Mongolia.

“Our mission there throughout the Airmen-to-Airmen Talks was to work and develop together,” said Keegan. “We’re not giving them their objectives; we’re there to offer assistance and help train them.”