Lt. Col. Charlie Jaworski, (right), Commander, 192nd Engineer Battalion, Connecticut Army National Guard, discusses heavy equipment engineer operations with Uruguayan Army Ttc. Col. (Lt. Col.) Robert Gomez, Commander, 5th Engineer Construction Battalion, Uruguayan Army, in Montevideo, Uruguay. In July, members of the 192nd Engineer Battalion made their first exchange visit to Uruguay as part of the State Partnership Program. The Connecticut National Guard Engineers spent their visit providing and receiving briefings on Engineer equipment and capabilities. (Photo by Spc. Zachary Hovanec, 246th Engineer Detachment, Connecticut Army National Guard)

 

After spending four years as a C-130H Mobility Combat Systems Officer at Bradley Air National Guard Base, Connecticut Air National Guard Maj. Jaime Zambrano assumed the role of State Partnership Program Director from Army National Guard Capt. Nicholas Raphael, July 1.

For over 15 years, the Connecticut National Guard has engaged in multiple events with Uruguay in mutually-beneficial exchanges that have seen subject matter experts in multiple fields travel to and from both nations. Since its inception, there have been over 40 engagements with Connecticut Guardsmen traveling to Uruguay, or members of the Uruguayan Armed Forces traveling north to engage on a number of different topics.

“Our engagements with Uruguay are always an incredible learning experience for everyone involved,” Raphael said. “We give deserving Guardsmen the opportunity to interface with counterparts from another nation, both here at home and abroad.”

Raphael moved on after a lengthy tenure at the program’s helm, but Zambrano isn’t coming into the position with zero experience. During past engagements in Connecticut, he served as a linguist, which gave him an in-depth look at the incredible attention to detail that goes into putting an event together from start-to-finish.

“The amount of work Raphael put into this program is tremendous, and I look forward to maintaining that same level of excellence,” Zambrano said.

Zambrano recently returned from his first engagement in Uruguay, teaming up with Capt. Pedro Concolino, the CTNG’s new Bilateral Affairs Officer, to introduce members of the 192nd Engineer Battalion, Connecticut Army National Guard, on their first visit to the South American nation.

Led by Lt. Col. Charles Jaworski, Battalion Commander, members of the 192nd Engineer staff briefed Uruguayan military officials on their battalion’s capabilities, as well as where they fit in the overall picture of the Connecticut National Guard. Relaying information about operations both overseas and right here at home, Jaworski and his staff stressed the Guard’s flexibility.

The Uruguayans reciprocated with briefings of their own, to include extensive information on military history before diving deeper into how engineer forces are structured, as well as courses offered at the nation’s Engineer school. Throughout the week, the group was treated to informational briefings and discussions, as well as equipment displays and capability demonstrations.

Some of those demonstrations took Connecticut Guardsmen to the field, where they viewed multiple Engineer tasks in action during unit training exercises.

Throughout the week, they saw displays and exercises that included well drilling and water purification equipment, decontamination equipment, firefighting and mine breaching.

“We saw some incredible things in Uruguay,” Jaworski said. “From demining techniques, to underwater welding by their divers to the historical and cultural briefings we received, it was truly an eye-opening experience.”

For Zambrano, the engagement was just as rewarding, as he teamed up with Raphael for some on-the-job training of his own. The engagement was Raphael’s last.

I’m going to miss everything about this program,” Raphael said. “I’ve made a lot of friendships and learned a lot about the world around me during my time in this position. I know the program is going to continue to get bigger and better with (Maj. Zambrano) in charge, and I wish him the best.”

The State Partnership Program is unique to the National Guard. Currently, the 54 states and territories have over 70 partnerships (some states are partnered with more than one nation). Uruguay and Connecticut have partnered together since 2001.

Interested in the State Partnership Program? Are you a Spanish-speaker interested in becoming a linguist? Contact your chain of command for more information on how to get involved with SPP!