Arizona Guard wraps up combined joint training in Exercise Regional Cooperation 22

Air National Guard photograph by Maj. Angela Walz
Maj. Gen. Kerry Muehlenbeck, The Adjutant General-Arizona, is greeted by Tajikistan officials as she tours the Exercise Regional Cooperation 22 training site to observe the exercise and visit Arizona Army and Air National Guard participants.

DUSHANBE, Tajikistan — An 11-person Army and Air team from the Arizona National Guard traveled to Tajikistan to participate in a two-week combined joint training exercise – Exercise Regional Cooperation 22 – with participants from the United States, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan.

Air National Guard photograph by Maj. Angela Walz
U.S. Ambassador to Tajikistan, John Mark Pommersheim, welcomed U.S. and partner nations of the U.S. Central Command-sponsored Regional Cooperation 22 military exercise, hosted by Tajikistan.

The exercise comes at a time when the positive results of the NG’s State Partnership Program are garnering high-profile visibility from within the Department of Defense. Maj. Gen. Kerry Muehlenbeck, The Adjutant General-Arizona, traveled to Tajikistan to witness first-hand the effects of years of partnership with her state’s SPP partner, Kazakhstan.

Army National Guard photograph by Maj. Phil Blanchard
Arizona Air National Guard 2nd Lt. Phillip Haugan, left (in flight suit) a KC-135 pilot with the 161st Air Refueling Wing, participated in U.S. Central Command’s Exercise Regional Cooperation 22 in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, as an aviation operations officer, and coordinated flight planning with partner nations, including Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan.

“The interoperability that comes from exercises like this is intangible,” said Maj. Gen. Muehlenbeck. “The National Guard’s State Partnership Program gives us the opportunity to work together tactically and strategically and this not only benefits our partner nations, but our U.S. servicemen and women as well,” she said.

Air National Guard photograph by Maj. Angela Walz
Tech. Sgt. Christopher Gonzales (center) discusses areas of responsibility with Staff Sgt. Matthew Ong and Maj. Jeff Robertson, during U.S. Central Command’s Exercise Regional Cooperation 22 in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. At home station in Phoenix, Ariz., Robertson is the 161st Security Forces Squadron commander, and Ong and Robertson are 161st SFS Defenders.

Although not an SPP exercise, RC22 is an annual, multi-national U.S. Central Command sponsored command post exercise conducted by U.S. National Guard units in partnership with Central and South Asia nations that focuses on enhancing multinational stability operations, counterterrorism, and promoting cooperation and joint combined capabilities among U.S., Central and South Asia states, and other participating nations.

Air National Guard photograph by Maj. Angela Walz
Maj. Michael Wasmundt, Arizona Army National Guard Deputy State Surgeon of Clinical, communicates via an interpreter with officers from Mongolia and the Kyrgyz Republic, while Arizona Air National Guard Senior Airman Ethel Redor, a ground transportation support officer with the 161st Air Refueling Wing, works with her counterparts during Exercise Regional Cooperation 22.

As part of RC22, service members from the U.S., Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan participated in a six-day command post exercise, and Tajikistan and U.S. participants also conducted a five-day bilateral field training component of the exercise, which provided an opportunity to coordinate, synchronize, and react to events in a non-threatening environment. RC22 is designed to enhance regional security and stability; increase national capabilities and commitment to interdict weapons of mass destruction, terrorist elements, and narcotics; and helps develop regional defense forces in international peace operations and information sharing.

“It’s important that we ensure continued resources for these international exercises. Any chance we have to increase interoperability during times of peace greatly enhances our productivity during war,” said Muehlenbeck. “The National Guard prides itself in our motto, ‘Always ready, always there.’ This is how we get there,” she said.

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