The U.S. New Jersey Air and Army National Guard medical branches trained with Albanian Armed Forces (AAF) Light Infantry Battle Group members as part of the State Partnership Program. The New Jersey Guard sent more than 40 service members to collaborate with their subject matter counterparts in the AAF.

The medical group shared best practices on tactical combat casualty care, care under fire, and treatment of combat injuries. Other focus areas included coordinating training, advising, and assisting Albanian nurses and combat medics in collaboration with the 4th Security Forces Assistance Brigade (SFAB) out of Fort Carson, Colorado.

“The joint forces collaborating and working alongside our international partners enhances the overall advisement and assistance provided,” said Col. Eric N. Erickson Jr., joint surgeon and commander of the 177th Medical Group, 177th Fighter Wing, New Jersey Air National Guard. “It also provides an open forum to learn and elaborate from each other on current techniques and reinforces the skills and abilities to operate and achieve mission success with limited and/or varied resources.“

AAF-LIBG members have been working toward new programs as they prepare to achieve NATO standards for their Role 1 and Role 2 medical capabilities.

“We want to create a program to train the trainers, so we can train our medics every time they need it by opening a section for medical training, so our troops can emphasize medical training in addition to their infantry tactics and communications,” said 1st Lt. Renato Pepa, Medical Service corps officer, 2nd Battalion, LIBG, AAF. “The New Jersey National Guard and SFAB are helping us very much with acquiring new skills, SOP training, and capable professionals in their fields to help us prepare for our Role 1 and Role 2 certifications. We look forward to continuing this relationship in the future.”

The relationship between the New Jersey National Guard and Albanian Armed Forces has existed for more than 20 years as they have conducted over 500 military-to-military events.

The State Partnership Program began in 1993 with 13 partners. Thirty years later, the program has grown to 100 partner nations and is a key U.S. security cooperation tool that facilitates collaboration across all aspects of civil-military affairs.