TN National Guard Security Forces Airmen return from Bulgaria
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Three members of the 118th Security Forces Squadron, out of Joint Base Berry Field in Nashville, Tenn., returned from a training mission in Botevgard, Bulgaria, September 15. The Airmen were there to demonstrate various skills while working within Tennessee’s State Partnership Program.
“We demonstrated ground base defense and close quarter combat skills, as well as some domestic operations,” said Master Sgt. Jason Kelly, an Airman of the 118th SFS. “The things we showed them were all new to them, and they had the opportunity to show us what they do.”
The Airmen were gone for nearly a week, exhibiting various capabilities to the Bulgarian Army. Through SPP, the National Guard conducts military-to-military engagements in support of defense security goals but also leverages whole-of-society relationships and capabilities.
“It was a very busy, but awesome, experience. They were very receptive,” said Kelly. “I most enjoyed getting a better understanding of their culture. In battle, these guys could be serving with us; it’s good to learn about each other’s capabilities and how we do things in advance.”
The State Partnership Program has been successfully building relationships for over 20 years that includes 73 unique security partnerships involving 79 nations around the globe. SPP links a unique component of the Department of Defense – a state's National Guard – with the armed forces or equivalent of a partner country in a cooperative, mutually beneficial relationship.
It evolved from a 1991 U.S. European Command decision to set up the Joint Contact Team Program in the Baltic Region with Reserve component Soldiers and Airmen. A subsequent National Guard Bureau proposal paired U.S. states with three nations emerging from the former Soviet Bloc and the State Partnership Program was born, becoming a key U.S. security cooperation tool, facilitating cooperation across all aspects of international civil-military affairs and encouraging people-to-people ties at the state level.
This low-cost program is administered by the National Guard Bureau, guided by State Department foreign policy goals, and executed by the state adjutants general in support of combatant commander and U.S. Chief of Mission security cooperation objectives and Department of Defense policy goals.
Staff Sgt. Nathan West, right, 118th Security Forces Squadron, instructs members of the Bulgarian Army in domestic operations techniques September 14 in Botevgard, Bulgaria. He was one of three Security Forces Airmen from the unit demonstrating security forces techniques as part of the State Partnership Program. (Photo provided by Air National Guard Master Sgt. Jason Kelley.)
Three members of the 118th Security Forces Squadron returned Sept. 15 from Botevgard, Bulgaria, where they spent a week instructing members of the Bulgarian Army in domestic operations techniques. Left to right: A soldier with the Bulgarian Army, Staff Sgt. Vincent Estes, Staff Sgt. Nathan West, a soldier with the Bulgarian Army, and Master Sgt. Jason Kelley. The National Guard’s State Partnership Program links a unique component of the Department of Defense – a state's National Guard – with the armed forces or equivalent of a partner country in a cooperative, mutually beneficial relationship. (Photo provided by Air National Guard Master Sgt. Jason Kelley.)
Members of the Bulgarian Army show off an MT-LB Multi-Purpose Tracked Vehicle that is part of the Bulgarian Army to Staff Sgt. Nathan West, Staff Sgt. Vincent Estes, and Master Sgt. Jason Kelley, of the 118th Security Forces Squadron, September 14. The State Partnership Program facilitates cooperation across all aspects of international civil-military affairs and encourages people-to-people ties at the state level. (Photo provided by Air National Guard Master Sgt. Jason Kelley.)