International military officials tour Kentucky Air National Guard
By Master Sgt. Phil Speck, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Military officials from five European countries toured the 123rd Airlift Wing Nov. 14 to learn about the Kentucky Air National Guard’s dual role of supporting both federal and state missions.
The group, which was comprised of military and government officials from Bulgaria, Hungary, Ireland, the Slovak Republic and the United Kingdom, participated in the tour as part of the International Visitor Leadership Program. The program was created by the U.S. State Department to
develop stronger relations with the international community, said Eran Huber of the World Affairs Council of Kentucky and Southern Indiana, which coordinated the local visit.
The visitors were first briefed about the 123rd Airlift Wing and its general mission capabilities. Next, they were taken on a tour of the 123rd Contingency Response Group and given a briefing on the unit’s disaster-response capabilities by the CRG commander, Col. Warren Hurst. The visit then concluded with a tour of aircraft maintenance facilities and a static display of the Kentucky Air National Guard’s workhorse transport plane, the C-130 Hercules.
1st Lieutenant Mate Toth, a member of the Hungarian military and an aide de camp at the NATO Center of Excellence for Military Medicine, was most impressed with the Contingency Response Group, a self-sufficient unit capable of quickly establishing an airbase in an austere location so military airlift can begin flowing into an area affected by disaster.
“What is most amazing for me,” he said, “is that you are offering a capability package —the capability of getting in and operating an airbase for a short amount of time, and bringing everything that you need.”
The other visitors were Niolay Veskov Nikolov, deputy minister’s assistant for the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Bulgaria; Lt. Col. Anthony Cudmore, officer in charge, International Security and Defense Policy, Office of Strategic Planning, the Irish Defense Forces; Dalibor Pavolka, head of the Multilateral Relations Section for the Ministry of Defence of the Slovak Republic; and Rachael Elkins, HMG Strategy and Governance, Civil Service Fast Stream, United Kingdom.
“We were very excited to host the International visitors for their tour of the base,” said Lt. Col. Robert Hamm, vice commander of the 123rd Airlift Wing, who served as host for the event and briefed the visitors during the tour. “I found the visitors very motivated to understand what the Air National Guard does, and very interested in the dual-role mission sets and dynamics of the National Guard.”