Tennessee Air Guardsmen foster partnership with Bulgarian Air Force

Lt. Col. Toma Dimitrov, a member of the Bulgarian Air Force, practices using riot gear on May 31, 2017 at Berry Field Air National Guard Base, Nashville, Tenn. Tennessee partners with Bulgaria under the State Partnership Program, which is designed to train allied forces, build international relationships, and enhance regional security. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Anthony Agosti)

Lt. Col. Toma Dimitrov, a member of the Bulgarian Air Force, practices using riot gear on May 31, 2017 at Berry Field Air National Guard Base, Nashville, Tenn. Tennessee partners with Bulgaria under the State Partnership Program, which is designed to train allied forces, build international relationships, and enhance regional security. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Anthony Agosti)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. --

Airmen from the 118th Security Forces Squadron had the special honor to host and train four officers from the Bulgarian Air Force May 30-June 1, 2017 at Berry Field Air National Guard Base, Nashville, Tennessee.

Tennessee partners with Bulgaria under the State Partnership Program, which is designed to provide cooperative training to allied military forces, strengthen global partnerships, and enhance regional security around the world.

 “The Tennessee-Bulgaria State Partnership Program has facilitated mutually beneficial training opportunities for all parties, encompassing a myriad of skillsets and experiences,” said Lt. Col. Tucker Rojas, the Tennessee-Bulgaria State Partnership Program director. “The Tennessee National Guard is a better, stronger fighting force as a result of our enduring partnership with Bulgaria.”

“This long standing partnership gives us an opportunity in the future to continue to be useful to each other,” said Col. Nikolay Lyaskovski, head of Force Protection in the Branch of Training Department for the Bulgarian Air Force. “Because we are both military and we are both NATO allies.”

 On this visit, the Bulgarian officers received in-depth training from several members of the 118th SFS.

 “They were coming to learn about force protection,” said Master Sgt. John Chaffin, the operations superintendent for the 118th SFS. “So what I did was kind of broke it down on how the security forces squadron is set up.”

 Trainings covering the anti-terrorism program, firing range operations, access control points,  and active shooter situations were some of the main trainings provided to the visiting Bulgarian officers, said Chaffin.

 “They showed a great interest in learning how we educate our base populace,” said Chaffin. “We are trying to get them some resources to take back home.”

 The Bulgarian officers also got a chance to take part in some hands on training.

 “We were privileged to observe the (simulated munitions) training,” said Lyaskovski. “And I am most proud to say two people from my team also took part in it.”

 Training events like this have proven very effective in fostering relations between the two states.

“The Bulgaria and Tennessee relationship is both strong and enduring; dating back to 1993 we have participated in over 500 military to military events with our Bulgarian state partners,” said Rojas. “We have even deployed to Afghanistan together between 2009 and 2011.”

“We sincerely hope that our mutual cooperation and partnership will continue in the future,” said Lyaskovski. “In order to improve our contacts and partnership.”

  The information provided to the Bulgarian officers should be beneficial in not only supporting the mission security of the Bulgarian Air Force, but also for U.S. service members stationed with them.

 “What we have learned we will try to implement in the future, and make our facilities more secure,” said Lyaskovski. “Especially the joint facilities, which are used by U.S. and Bulgarian forces for joint training.”

 “They work on a lot less budget then we do, that’s probably one of their biggest limiters,” said Chaffin. “But if we can get them some education materials to take back to their people and their bases, I think it would be a good trip.”

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