Tennessee National Guard Serves with State Partner Bulgaria
By Master Sgt. Kendra M. Owenby, 134 ARW Public Affairs
/ Published September 15, 2016
NOVO SELO TRAINING AREA, Bulgaria -- Airman from all three units of the Tennessee Air National Guard (118th Wing, 164th Airlift Wing, 134th Air Refueling Wing) and Soldiers from the 194th Engineer Brigade, Tennessee Army National Guard, deployed to Novo Selo Training Area, Bulgaria in Aug., 2016.
The majority of the Airmen were on rotation in support of Operation Resolute Castle 16 while some were deployed to work on Humanitarian Civic Assistance projects in the local Bulgarian community.
Members from the 164th AW, 118th W and 134th ARW were deployed as part of a National Guard rotation along with the 194th Engineer Brigade, Tennessee Army National Guard. Major projects included military police training, various ongoing on-site construction projects and off-site humanitarian assistance projects.
Operation Resolute Castle is a division of the larger Operation Atlantic Resolve, a multinational operation led by Army Europe spanning the countries of Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Estonia. The focus of ORC is a movement of military construction to build up Eastern European base infrastructure.
The mission of OAR is to further emphasize the commitment of the U.S. to assist in strengthening the security and peace of the region. Reinforcing these partnerships through joint training of U.S. and allied forces aids in a more stable Eastern Europe. This, in turn, benefits both Europe and the U.S.
Tennessee and Bulgaria were paired together because they share similarities both geographically and by population. Bulgaria is slightly larger in land mass and population. A former Soviet bloc nation, the country of Bulgaria is now a member of the European Union.
The main focus areas of the State Partnership Program are to foster national stability within the NATO infrastructure, gain language/culture proficiency, train on emergency management and disaster response, and develop non-commissioned officer leadership skills.
The Novo Selo Training Area is a major Bulgarian military training facility that was established in 1962. Many NATO countries use the facility for training and the U.S. and Bulgaria have used the site for annual joint training exercises since 2004.
The multi-national training that the Tennessee Air and Army National Guard members and Bulgarian Military receive is invaluable and would be much more difficult to organize without the assistance of the State Partnership Program. Tennessee and Bulgaria have been state partners since 1993 when the National Guard State Partnership Program was established.