By Tech. Sgt. Brigette Waltermire
137th Special Operations Wing
Two 137th Special Operations Wing (SOW) air advisors embedded with representatives from Oklahoma Joint Force Headquarters for a joint partnership strategic planning and unit training management event with the Azerbaijan Peacekeeping Brigade in Baku, Azerbaijan, March 1-4, 2022.
This visit, part of the State Partnership Program (SPP), marked a first for the Oklahoma National Guard (OKNG) with the collaboration focusing on the newly-formed Peacekeeping Brigade component of the Azerbaijan Armed Forces. The Guardsmen were engaged in building a mutual understanding of the doctrine of both the Oklahoma National Guard and the Peacekeeping Brigade.
“Azerbaijan recently stood up a Peacekeeping Brigade, and we are strengthening the relationship under our SPP agreement to help them achieve NATO certification through strategic planning and unit training management,” explained Maj. Karl Hurdle, air advisor team lead with the 137th Special Operations Group. “During that time we made friendships, which I think helped them trust the content and become more engaged with us throughout the day. That was definitely my favorite part – seeing them respond to the ‘why’ of why we were there.”
This is the initial phase of a doctrinal training plan the OKNG is preparing for the Azerbaijan Peacekeeping Brigade. The unit training management presentations by the Oklahoma Army and Air National Guard allowed them to see the OKNG workflow used to monitor training and readiness, which will then build into the next engagement intended to cover military decision making processes. This demonstrated interoperability, giving an example of the U.S. military’s ability to work with all branches as well as how the U.S. engages with NATO partners while maintaining its individual doctrine. The Peacekeeping Brigade can then take that information as they start to develop their military doctrine to meet NATO certification requirements.
While the OKNG Army structure more closely resembled the Peacekeeping Brigade in its makeup, the Air National Guard members, Hurdle and 1st Lt. Christopher Vaughan, air advisor mission commander with the 137th SOG, added the Air Force side of what the Oklahoma National Guard can offer to its state partner.
“The skillsets that our state partner is requesting closely resembles our own mission support capabilities, such as civil engineering, medical, logistics and cyber,” said Hurdle. “It’s a unique opportunity to focus on skill sets that are solely for peacekeeping and not for the full spectrum of warfare. This engagement has provided our mission support air advisors the opportunity to not only expand their cultural awareness of other militaries, but also to practice instructing their skill set to partner nation students, which will help launch future engagements with our SPP and other NATO partner nations. Our members will become better subject matter experts with every one of those opportunities to improve processes at home, and that improvement will enhance the mission sustainment team’s overall capability.”