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Home : News : State Partnership Program
NEWS | May 22, 2024

Virginia Guard, Tajik Partners Conduct Mountain Warfare Exchange

By Mike Vrabel, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs

ROMIT, Tajikistan - Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the 276th Engineer Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group, conducted a mountain warfare exchange with Tajik military forces Apr. 29 to May 3 in Romit. 

The exchange supported the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program. Virginia and Tajikistan have been partners since 2003. 

Tajikistan agencies participating in the exchange included the Ministry of Defense’s Peacekeeping Battalion and members of the Tajik National Guard. 

During the training, three engineers assigned to the 276th shared lessons learned and best practices of mountain warfare operations, including knot-tying, rappelling, and rope bridge implementation. 

The exchange culminated with a timed test. Participants rappelled down a 100-meter cliff face and back and were evaluated on their knowledge of different knots. 

The Virginia Army National Guard team included Sgt. 1st Class Frank Barmes, Sgt. 1st Class Richard Test and Sgt. Chris McClelland.

“Together, the three engineers brought decades worth of military and civilian experience and insight into the exchange,” said Master Sgt. Daniel Timberlake, the VNG J3 joint operations noncommissioned officer in charge.

The mountain warfare exchange was the third in the past three years. 

In July, the VNG and Tajikistan celebrated the 20th anniversary of their partnership in the SPP. The relationship has benefitted all parties, from sharing subject matter expertise throughout 200 military-to-military engagements that help counter terrorism, deter violent extremism, expand emergency response capabilities, develop professionalism among leaders and staffs and promote shared values in national sovereignty and security.

The VNG also formalized its partnership with Finland in 2024.  

The SPP program began in 1993 and has grown to include the National Guard in every state, three territories and the District of Columbia, and more than 100 nations.