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118th Wing strengthens state partner relationship with Bulgaria.

  • Published
  • By SSgt. Jordan Harwood
  • 118th Wing

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Col. Todd Wiles, commander of the 118th Wing (118 WG), and  Chief Master Sgt. Trenton Williams, 118th WG command chief, along with Tennessee National Guard leadership visited Graf Ignatievo Air Base in Bulgaria to strengthen the relationship the Tennessee National Guard shares with the Bulgarian military through the State Partnership Program.

               “The Bulgarians are moving over to fighter aircraft like the F-16 platform,” said Williams. “We are looking to help them with that transition. It’s going to include training their support personnel, maintenance capabilities, and the ability to effectively defend their base.” 

The visit bolstered the bond that not only the 118WG has with Bulgaria, but also fosters a stronger rapport between the United States and its NATO allies. The Bulgarian Military and the Tennessee National Guard’s State Partnership Program has resulted in both standing up and strengthening Bulgaria’s military capabilities. Since the beginning of the program, Bulgaria has been able to join both NATO in 2004 and the European Union in 2007.

                “We are focusing on helping them develop their people,” said Williams. “Teaching them to develop and lean on their enlisted leaders. Teaching them this so in the future they can develop quicker and faster results”

Bulgaria’s recent parliamentary approval of purchasing F-16’s to replace their aging fleet of RAC MiG-29’s will continue Bulgaria’s connection with the United States into the future. The purchase will also include weapons and upgrade packages for the F-16 platform to keep it operational into the future.

                “They have some smart and very capable people and over the past 25 years are making the transition from former Soviet era style of leadership,” said Williams. “We look forward to continue working with Bulgaria’s Air Force and supporting them in this transition.”

U.S. Air National Guard Col. Todd Wiles, commander of the 118th Wing, left, and Chief Master Sgt. Trenton Williams, 118th Wing command chief, right, pose in front of a Bulgarian MiG-29 during a State Partnership visit on Graf Ignatievo Air Base, Graf Ignatievo, Bulgaria. The State Partnership Program brings together the Air National Guard and host nations in support of defense security goals. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Jordan Harwood.)