Wing strengthens U.S. partnership with Central Asia
By Capt. Gabe Johnson, 162nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 15, 2008
TUCSON, Ariz. -- The 162nd Fighter Wing hosted delegates from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan for an aviation logistics information exchange, April 8-9.
Approximately 30 logistics officers and staff from the three Central Asian air forces visited the 162nd Logistics Readiness Squadron and 162nd Maintenance Group to learn how it accomplishes the mission of generating sorties for the 162nd Fighter Wing.
Arizona's association with Kazakhstan via the National Guard Bureau's state partnership program made the 162nd a logical choice to host this Partnership for Peace exchange.
Partnership for Peace is a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) project aimed at creating trust between NATO and other states in Europe and the former Soviet Union. Since 1994, Arizona has partnered with Kazakhstan to exchange information and personnel for the purpose of raising standards to meet NATO membership requirements.
"Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are working to modernize their air defenses, and this visit presented our wing the opportunity to help them do that," said Lt. Col. Greg Bliss, LRS commander. "By taking a close look at the way we manage materials, vehicles, fuels and maintenance, they're getting good ideas for changes they can implement at home."
Col. Marat Yeshimbetov, chief of Kazakhstan's air defense logistics, said the visit was excellent and the tour was very informative.
"We were impressed by the high level of professionalism from the people here and grateful to the commanders for showing us everything we saw," he said. "I've been in aviation for 24 years and I would never have any worries about flying my aircraft if it were maintained here on your base."
In addition to the LRS, visitors saw a Hush House engine test facility, avionics, weapons, phase maintenance, aerospace ground equipment and the maintenance operations center.
"They really liked the tour," said Capt. Randy Allen, the group's escort from Air Forces Central. "I could tell by the number of questions and the kind of questions they were asking."
"This is one of the best tours we've done," said the captain who escorts several partnership tours per year. "It was well-tailored to the audience, and the base went to great lengths to add some extra stops at the fire house, services, and airfield management office."