July 28, 2009

34th CST troops travel to Tajikistan to exchange disaster response information

Maj. John W. Lewis
Joint Task Force for Civil Support

FORT PICKETT, Va. — Members of the Virginia National Guard’s 34th Civil Support Team traveled to Dushanbe, Tajikistan on June 20 to participate in the Virginia National Guard State Partnership Program military exchange with  Tajikistan. This was the fifth visit since 2004 for members of the 34th CST to exchange information with the Tajik Ministry of Defense emergency response team and the Committee for Emergency Services response team. 

  34th CST members in Tajikistan

Sgt. Winston Obermuller(top) and Staff Sgt. Ann Olson (bottom) teach a Tajik Army officer how to maintain and operate a sensitive piece of detection equipment that was provided to the Tajiks by the U.S. (Photo courtesy of Virginia National Guard State Partnership Program) 

The purpose of the exchange was to share information and knowledge regarding disaster preparedness with the goal of helping the Tajik government prepare to respond to Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosive incidents within the country that are military, terrorist or natural-disaster related.

The team was comprised of four Virginia National Guard members, including Capt. Chris Troesh, the 34th CST deputy commander, Staff Sgt. Ann Olson, the CST survey team lead, and Sgt. Winston Obermuller, a survey team member.

The SPP provides an exciting opportunity for Soldiers of both nations to learn about each other’s military and culture. The Tajik officers share the excitement of the Virginia Guardsmen and are eager to learn about new and different ways to perform their mission of responding to natural and man-made disasters.
The visiting CST left on June 29 with a plan for the further development of the Tajik capabilities. Future exchanges will be planned revolving around jointly planned scenarios and participation between the Tajik forces and Virginia National Guard members.

Maj. John W. Lewis served as the escort officer for the trip to Tajikistan.

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