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By Spc. Ashton Koller
U.S. Army Central
U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM), with support from the Massachusetts Army National Guard, sponsored exercise Regional Cooperation 2019 (RC19) as an opportunity to work with coalition partners in Central and South Asia (CASA).
RC19 was hosted by Tajikistan this year, 5 – 16 August 2019. The exercise welcomed 200 participants from the militaries of the U.S., Mongolia, Uzbekistan, and an observer from Pakistan.
This event helps strengthen military-to-military relationships between participating countries, while enhancing regional security and stability in the CASA region.
U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Richard Weeks, USCENTCOM’s lead planner for RC19, says it was a great learning experience for all nations present.
“It’s very educational. Everyone has something to teach, and everyone has something to learn,” said Weeks. “They learn from the U.S., how we do our staff work, what capabilities and what military doctrine we use to get missions accomplished. In turn, they show us how they do business.”
Regional Cooperation is the only USCENTCOM sponsored exercise held in Central and South Asia, and is a unique opportunity to cooperate with those countries in a military environment. According to Weeks participants have only a small time frame to form a cohesive unit to accomplish tasks throughout the exercise.
“This exercise focuses on multiple operations in a fictional scenario of a destabilized country,” said Weeks. “We have military representatives working together to come up with solutions by working together through these events. We learn to work together, person-to-person, as well as become familiar with each other’s military systems.”
Although the scenarios are fictional, a great bit of cooperation was evident throughout the events entirety.
“This exercise has gone exceptionally well,” said Weeks. “We began with a couple of days of academics. That gave everyone a good base to start from. Once we began actually running the exercise scenarios, everyone came together to find solutions, and form a well-functioning military staff.
Armed Forces of the Republic of Tajikistan Colonel Anvar Akhmadjonzoda, deputy chief of staff for RC19, explains the goal of the exercise, and why it’s so important.
“The goal of this exercise is to achieve compatibility of all our units when performing peace-keeping operations outside the borders of our country,” said Akhmadjonzoda. “This exercise provides experience for our officers and senior leadership. Our brigade is international, therefore the ability to operate together and experience is the most important.”
Aside from the difficulties of a language barrier, Akhmadjonzoda says the main obstacle when working with partner nations in this exercise is the various standards of decision making.
“Tajiks, Mongols, Pakistanis, Uzbeks, and Americans all have the same goal here, but various approaches and paths to a solution,” said Akhmadjonzoda. “During an exercise like this, we are gaining experience and we are finding common ways to solve problems”
Working with coalition partners can be a unique experience for service members. Akhmadjonzoda said it was enjoyable working with different partners from the region and beyond.
“Working with the other participants has gone very well. We joke around and eventually understand each other,” said Akhmadjonzoda. “We have experience working together already. If we aren’t able to understand another, then the Americans maybe can explain. If they can’t, then the Uzbeks maybe can explain, and so forth.”
The Regional Cooperation exercise series has been conducted annually since 2001; the last RC exercise was held 10-21 September 2018, in Massachusetts.
“We learn a lot and enjoy coming over to Central Asia with our partners. We look forward to this exercise every year,” said Weeks. “Different countries have hosted it, and every host has been very gracious. We look forward to continuing this exercise every year.”
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U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND
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