Oct. 4, 2007

Tajik general visits with Virginia troops in Kosovo

Lt. Gen. Ramil Nadyrov, First Deputy to the Minister of Defense of Tajikistan, presents Brig. Gen. Douglas Earhart with commemorative souvenirs from his country. Nadyrov visited Camp Bondsteel as part of Virginia's participation in the State Partnership Program with Tajikistan. (Photo by Sgt. Nicki Fellenzer, 29th Infantry Division)

By Sgt. Nicki Fellenzer
29th Infantry Division

CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo – This is a story of two states. One is a newly-independent country that has a long, proud national history of more than 1,100 years, while the other is a state in a relatively young nation whose history only spans several centuries.

One is a former Soviet Republic in Central Asia, while the other is part of a western superpower. Tajikistan’s population mainly consists of Tajiks, Uzbeks and Russians, while the state of Virginia has an amalgamation of many different cultures and nationalities.

Yet, the militaries of Tajikistan and the state of Virginia have formed a bond of trust and friendship through the State Partnership Program, and Soldiers from both the Tajik and Virginia National Guard organizations have been working to achieve their goals and build a strong alliance in a world where cooperation is critical to fighting the War on Terror and ensuring safety and security in the world.

Last month, a delegation from Tajikistan visited Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo. The purpose of the trip was to help Tajikistan establish a peacekeeping program that would involve its armed forces and its National Guard.

Lt. Gen. Ramil Nadyrov, the First Deputy to the Minister of Defense of Tajikistan, along with several others from the Tajikistan Ministry of Defense and the Tajikistan National Guard spent three days on Camp Bondsteel learning about peacekeeping.

“We try to help them design a roadmap so they can develop their own peacekeeping capability whatever form it may take,” Maj. Neal Edmonds, the coordinator for the Virginia State Partnership Program with Tajikistan explains. “We have the capability to assist them to get where they want to be. This trip was to allow General Nadyrov to see the end result – basically what his country is asking for. Now he can go back and think how he can design their road map.”

Edmonds was impressed with the quality of information that the Virginia National Guard provided to the Tajik delegation.

“It was exactly what I thought we should be looking for: training requirements, logistical requirements, operational requirements,” he says.

Edmonds was also impressed with Nadyrov’s grasp of the issues and challenges.

“His questions were thoughtful and smart, which told me he understood what was being presented to him. That, to me, is a sign of hope that there’s a good chance that this will be a successful venture.”

For Nadyrov, the trip was fascinating because peacekeeping is a new undertaking for the Tajikistan armed forces, and it was useful for him to see the ins and outs of the process.


Brig. Gen. Douglas Earhart, Commander of Multinational Task Force (East) in Kosovo helps Lt. Gen. Ramil Nadyrov, First Deputy to the Minister of Defense of Tajikistan, try on his Individual Body Armor (IBA) during an office call.  (Photo by Sgt. Nicki Fellenzer, 29th Infantry Division)


“I think it’s still early to try and adapt some of what we learned in Tajikistan,” he says. “But it was enough to see the perspective toward which we strive.”

Nadyrov and his party spent several days exploring Camp Bondsteel learning about the logistics, training and operational requirements that comprise a crucial part of a peacekeeping mission. The members of the delegation also got the opportunity to visit the Multi-National Task Force (East) area of operations and speak with some of the Soldiers performing peacekeeping duties in Kosovo, which is what Nadyrov enjoyed most.

“I was surprised by the many nationalities working together with no problems or hindrances, even though they come from different countries and regimes,” he says.

Nadyrov and his fellow Soldiers ate meals with members of the Virginia Army National Guard and got the opportunity to find out about the Soldiers’ lives, their work and their goals. He also visited with the Polish and Ukrainian troops both on Camp Bondsteel and Camp Breza.

“I realized how much there is to do in order to reach the level of everyone else here,” Nadyrov says.

Tajikistan has a long, proud history, but it is a young independent state, and leaders such as Nadyrov want to progress the nation’s military, according to Edmonds.

“The Virginia National Guard state partnership program is a tool that Central Command and the U.S. Defense Department can use to help them reach their goals and also help the United States achieve some of its goals in the region,” he says.

According to Edmonds, the relationship between the two military organizations began in 2004.

“Tajikistan was the last of the Central Asian states to get a partnership, and this actually makes it one of the most important partnerships,” he says. “Their location is critical to the War on Terror, their interest in Afghanistan mirrors our own interest, and security for their country is critical.”

It’s a relationship in which Edmonds believes strongly; it’s a cooperation that has fostered a bond of trust between the young independent Central Asian nation and the state of Virginia.

“The interaction between Tajik officers with the Virginia National Guard Soldiers and leadership is a truly open relationship,” Edmonds says, “and they’re very open with us in sharing information and we’re very open with them.”

Edmonds says the state partnership program is a great opportunity for the United States to build a lasting friendship with countries that normally would not have that kind of relationship with the U.S.

Lt. Gen. Ramil Nadyrov, First Deputy to the Minister of Defense of Tajikistan, presents Maj. Mike Peterson of Task Force Red Dragon, KFOR 8, a souvenir from his country in gratitude for showing him around his Task Force's area of operations in Kosovo. (Photo by Sgt. Nicki Fellenzer, 29th Infantry Division)

“We have long-term friendships; we don’t have as much turnover as the active Army,” he explains, “so when we go into a country and meet our counterparts and their leaders, we’re able to build lasting relationships. And once built, there’s a mutual trust and things can be accomplished.”

For Nadyrov, the military peacekeeping mission represents an enormous responsibility. He was impressed with the depth and breadth of knowledge about Kosovo he saw in Virginia National Guard Soldiers.

He believes great credit should go to those who organize peacekeeping missions in the military. Aside from the military profession, Soldiers also expand their perspective about the culture and history of the people in whose country they are working.

“I want this to serve as an example to all people,” he says, “and especially politicians, who are trying to regulate conflicts in various parts of the world. They need to regard the people whose future they’re deciding as carefully, respectfully and seriously as the military does.”

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