CE builds upon partnership in Armenia
By Sharon Watson, Kansas Adjutant General's Department
/ Published October 20, 2009
FORBES FIELD ANGB, Topeka, Kan. -- A six-year partnership between the Kansas National Guard and the Republic
of Armenia has resulted in a unique opportunity for members of the 190th Air Refueling Wing.
Thirty-seven Civil Engineering Squadron members recently traveled to Armenia for a two-week mission, building a new Expeditionary Medical Support System warehouse for the host country. Kansas was the first to purchase an EMEDS for disaster response and, as a result of the State Partnership Program, Armenian government officials also decided to purchase one.
"The ability to build the right storage capacity hasn't existed," Maj. Gen. Tod Bunting, Kansas Adjutant General, noted. "So as part of our ongoing partnership, it's also allowed us to have a unique training opportunity for our engineers from Kansas who are experienced in deploying it."
Technical Sgt. Robert Ogen served as a crew leader on the EMEDS warehouse
mission and was proud to be involved.
"I love doing this stuff. It just gives you a good feeling, like you're helping people out that need the help," he said.
"It makes you feel good," said Tech. Sgt. Michelle Givens. "In the long run, you know it's going to help people."
Major Jake Salmand, who is in charge of the civil engineers crew building the warehouse, saw many benefits to the mission, including training and improving their teamwork in preparation for potential combat missions, while also helping the Armenians. But, the mission was not without a few struggles, he said.
"The communication barrier is a challenge," he noted. "Tools are the same, but we both call them different things. We have a few guys assigned to us to help interpret when necessary and get us stuff. They're great. They have good attitudes, they're more than willing to help us out, and they want to accommodate us in any way they can, so it's good."
Meanwhile, Chief Master Sgt. Danny Roush worked across town, leading another crew of civil engineers in the installation of air conditioners at the Armenian Air Institute,
where the local military receives academic training.
"I think we'll make a big difference. We'll leave a mark here that Armenians will enjoy a long time after we leave," Roush said.
He, too, was working through the language differences with his Airmen and the Armenian military, while maintaining a good sense of humor.
"Seems like you can point to things and most of the Armenians can understand
a little bit of English," Roush said. "They know more English than we know Armenian. That's for sure!"
Other missions for the civil engineers during their two weeks in Armenia included completely rewiring a kindergarten building.
The CE team left Armenia Aug. 1, turning over their work to the Texas Air National Guard, which arrived to continue the mission.
The State Partnership Program is a program of the Department of Defense
working in cooperation with the National Guard Bureau to help create stable environments in partner countries, increase partner capacities and prevent conflict.