Kansas National Guard leadership visits Armenia

Maj. Gen. (KS) Lee Tafanelli, the adjutant general, is visiting the Republic of Armenia with members of his senior staff Sept. 24 to 28. Tafanelli is accompanied by Col. Roger Murdock, director of operations, Joint Forces Headquarters Kansas; Col. Howard Wheeler, director of Strategic Plans, Policy and International Affairs, Joint Forces Headquarters Kansas; Lt. Col. Brent Salmans, director, State Partnership Program; and Chief Warrant Officer 5 Hector Vasquez, command chief warrant officer, Joint Forces Headquarters Kansas.

The visit is part of the ongoing exchanges arranged under the State Partnership Program, a National Guard Bureau program that links the National Guard of participating states with developing nations to foster mutually beneficial military-to-military, military-to-civilian, and civilian-to-civilian relationships.Kansas and Armenia conduct 15 to 20 engagements a year focusing on a variety of professional fields such as emergency response, law enforcement, medical training and military operations.

“My visit last year was very informative,” said Tafanelli. “These face to face meetings encourage the exchange of ideas and build relationships in ways that can’t be done through emails and other communication channels.”

“The Armenians are very warm and hospitable people,” he added. “I am looking forward to renewing the relationships I made last year and making some new ones.”

During the visit, the delegation will meet with John Heffern, U.S. ambassador to Armenia; Seyran Ohanyan, Armenian minister of defense; Colonel-General Yuri Khachaturov, chief of staff, Armed Forces of Armenia; Davit Tonoyan, first deputy minister of defense; and Armen Yeritsyan, minister of emergency situations. They will also visit with several Kansas National Guardsmen currently working with the Armenian armed forces on familiarization with demining operations and the Expeditionary Medical System.

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