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Home : News : State Partnership Program
NEWS | April 19, 2024

Wisconsin Air Guard Trains with Papua New Guinea Partners

By Staff Sgt. Kati Volkman, Wisconsin National Guard

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea - Wisconsin Air National Guard members from the 128th Air Refueling Wing Security Forces Squadron and the 115th Fighter Wing Security Forces Squadron trained alongside the Papua New Guinea Defence Force March 17-22 as part of the State Partnership Program.

The Airmen trained PNGDF military police and other service members in crowd control, compliance techniques and physical and electronic security.

According to 1st Lt. Andrew Schaitel, security forces operations officer with the 115th Security Forces Squadron, this trip was a good lesson on how to prepare even more for the next visit to Papua New Guinea.

“It’s been helpful to establish connections with the defence force, to learn things like where the training grounds are and where our stays will be,” Schaitel said. “It helps solidify our planning process for future training opportunities in order to be even more successful.”

Senior Master Sgt. Philip Steffens, who works with the training section of the 115th Security Forces Squadron, said these training missions are important.

“A lot of our Airmen haven’t deployed yet, so they haven’t seen other countries and cultures,” Steffens said. “To be able to come here and instruct soldiers from another country while also learning from them and how they do things helps us to be more well-rounded individuals and better at what we do.”

Airman 1st Class Aidan Andrews, with the 128th Security Forces Squadron, has been in the Air National Guard for less than a year and was excited to come on this training mission so early in his career.

“I feel like they want to branch out new opportunities for the new Airmen, and it is very much appreciated,” Andrews said. “When I joined, I figured, as a lower enlisted Airmen, I would get to do things that would get me acquainted with the Air Force but nothing too special, and then I hear I’m getting sent to another country that I couldn’t even place on a map. I feel honored to be able to teach, especially at my experience level.”

Steffens said the training helps develop relationships with the PNGDF, especially the military police battalion.

“They are really receptive. They are interested in learning and we’re interested in learning from them, so I think it’s been great for both countries,” Steffens said.

Schaitel said the partnership has allowed the Airmen to increase their training skills while bolstering the relationship with the PNGDF.

“This has been an excellent opportunity for Wisconsin and Papua New Guinea to build on our historic relationship, and I’m looking forward to seeing how we can continue to develop it in the future,” Schaitel said.

The Wisconsin National Guard and Papua New Guinea partnership began in 2020. Since then, several key leader engagements and site visits have strengthened the relationship. 

The Department of Defense National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program links individual states with more than 100 partner nations to forge lasting cooperation, friendship and mutually beneficial relationships.