This year marks the 20th anniversary of the partnership between Kansas and the Republic of Armenia under the National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program. Over the years, the Kansas National Guard has conducted numerous military to military exchanges with their Armenian counterparts. However, the partnership is not limited to military only. The program has also seen many military to civilian and civilian to civilian exchanges.
For several days in April, the Kansas National Guard’s 73rd Civil Support Team partnered with a group of Armenian emergency management personnel to conduct field exercises.
“We are hosting an Armenian CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear) team,” said Lt. Col. Justin Nusz, 73rd CST commander. “They are a civilian force. Most of them are firefighters. We’re trying to exchange our techniques, build confidence in the equipment and also teach them how to use and maintain the equipment.” “Our team came to see how they organize their own exercises here,” said Tigran Petrosyan, Armenian team leader, speaking through an interpreter. “Our team will partially participate in the exercises to demonstrate their skills and knowledge.”
“They’ve been issued a lot of equipment through the Department of Defense,” said Nusz, “so we’re helping them learn how to use it effectively to test substances, trust the results, and what to do with that once they’re complete to make sure that equipment’s calibrated and ready for the next mission. Today, we’re going to run separate lanes, each one with a different objective using different equipment and allow our Armenian counterparts to put on the suit and conduct the mission with oversight from our people.” Both Nusz and Petrosyan said such events are mutually beneficial.
“This is our CBRN team from Armenia and anything they learn from that field of CBRN, they’re going to apply that back home,” said Petrosyan.
“Any time we get a chance to work on our skills, whether it’s with other American teams or international teams such as this, we learn something from them just as much as they learn from us,” said Nusz.