July 14, 2004
Virginia delegation visits Tajikistan
By Lt. Col. Chester C. Carter, III
BLACKSTONE, Va. – In addition to supporting this country’s Global War on Terrorism both at home and abroad, working to improve the quality of life here in the Commonwealth and answering the call when our communities are in need, the Virginia National Guard has assumed a new role in service to community, commonwealth, and country. The Virginia National Guard, through the National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program, has begun a partnership with the Central Asia country of Tajikistan. Once a part of the Soviet Union, Tajikistan gained its independence in 1991. The nation of Tajikistan is recovering from a devastating civil war which lasted from 1992 through 1997. Maj. Gen. Claude Williams, Adjutant General of Virginia, is committed to supporting the Tajiks with that recovery in any way the Virginia National Guard can. He sees this relationship as one of equals. His expectation is that the Virginia National Guard will gain as much from this partnership as the Tajiks.
Williams just return from his initial State Partnership Program visit in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Williams and members of his staff departed Va. for Tajikistan on June 25 and returned to the United States on July 4. Williams and his staff visited various Tajik Armed Forces agencies including the Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Emergency Situations, the Tajik National Guard, Tajik Boarder Guard and various Tajik military units. Each of these office calls produced potential ways for the Tajiks and Virginians take advantage of each others experience and leverage each others knowledge. Williams and his staff also visited the United Nations Development Programme office in Dushanbe as well as industrial, cultural sites, and recreational sites. During his visit, Williams also had the opportunity to spend time with Ambassador Richard Hoagland, the US Ambassador to Tajikistan.
The purpose of this visit was to continue to establish, develop, and formalize the Virginia National Guard’s relationship with the country of Tajikistan under the National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program. The visit enabled Williams to conduct exchanges with Maj. Gen. Ramil Nadyrov, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Tajikistan; members of Gen. Nadyrov’s staff; representatives of the Tajik Ministry of Defense; Tajik National Guard; Tajik Boarder Guards, and other government agencies. Gen. Nadyrov and members of his staff visited the Virginia National Guard in April of this year. During that visit Williams had an opportunity to brief Nadyrov and his staff on the capabilities of the Virginia National Guard.
There have already been some exchanges between the Tajiks and Virginians. Logisticians from Tajikistan have traveled to the United States to review US military processes for logistical management. Trainers and logisticians from the Virginia Army and Air National Guard have traveled to Tajikistan to exchange information and techniques with the Tajiks as well. Potential opportunities for the Tajiks to travel to Virginia to review consequence management operations are currently under consideration.
When it was established in 1993, the original intent of the National Guard State Partnership Program was to assist former Warsaw Pact nations gain an understanding the workings of democracy including the citizen-soldier concept of the National Guard and a free market economy. The program has grown significantly over the last ten years. It now includes over 35 states, territories, and the District of Columbia which have established partnerships with countries around the world. Williams said that he is looking forward to a long lasting and strong partnership with Tajikistan that is beneficial to the Virginia National Guard as well as Tajikistan.