Partnership facilitates exchange of ideas, bettering US and Kazakhstan forces

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Michael Matkin
  • 161st Air Refueling Wing

The exchange of ideas and knowledge can better individuals and organizations – even organizations as large as a country’s military. For this reason, the State Partnership Program was created and that’s why the 161st Air Refueling Wing recently traveled to Kazakhstan.

The State Partnership Program began in 1993 between the United States and the newly independent former Soviet Republics in coordination with the U.S. European Command. During the last 20 years, Arizona and Kazakhstan have regularly exchanged personnel in an effort to foster personal and professional relationships, exchange ideas and improve interoperability to the mutual benefit of both Armed Forces. Although not the first partnership of its kind, it was the first in Central Asia and one of the original 22 SPPs.

The purpose of this recent visit was to train and exchange knowledge of the pallet build-up process, as the Kazakhstan Battalion Peacekeeping Organization prepares to deploy for an exercise and a real-world peacekeeping mission.

“The partnership is important for the simple task of taking a look at how each side does stuff,” said Master Sgt. Terry Kots, 161st Aerial Port Squadron, air transportation specialist supervisor. “It is a partnership of sharing ideas and training. There are ideas we can take from them and there are ideas they can take from us - and make it our own.”

The partnership also provides an opportunity for both countrys’ service members to learn to work across cultural and language barriers.

Kots said once they got to know each other and worked out some communication hurdles, they were able to effectively work together and grow. He said, in the end, each side felt they were confident in their ability to palletize cargo, build up the pallets, load the aircraft and identify hazards so they could self-deploy.

“[The Kazakhstan forces] were hard chargers,” said Kots. “They are very proud of the work they do – it has to be exact - and that really impressed me. I really enjoyed the experience and look forward to working with them again.”

Previous partnership visits to Arizona included Army aviation operations, vehicle maintenance support, and non-commission officer development programs. Members of the Arizona Guard have also visited Kazakhstan to participate in Exercise Steppe Eagle, an annual multinational training exercise focused on peacekeeping and peace support operations.