Tongan delegation impressed with Nevada Guard, Silver State
By Staff Sgt. Mike Getten
Joint Force Headquarters Public Affairs
RENO — Like millions of other first-time visitors to the Silver State before him, Brig. Gen. Tau’aika ‘Uta’atu, Tonga’s top military official, gained a new appreciation for Nevada’s people and resources on his initial visit to Nevada. The Nevada portion of his trip to the United States under the auspice of the National Guard’s State Partnership Program concluded Wednesday after a stop at the 152nd Airlift Wing in Reno.
On his final day in northern Nevada, 'Uta'atu took a tour of the Nevada Air National Guard base in Reno hosted by 152nd Airlift Wing staff. The tour began with an inspection of a C-130 aircraft, a review of the maintenance hangar and a visit to the 152nd Civil Engineer Squadron’s modern firehouse.
The Tongan general then inspected Nevada Counterdrug equipment and Nevada's Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and high-yield Explosives Enhanced Response Force Package unit. Subsequently, he took a tour of the 152nd Logistics Readiness Squadron’s vehicle maintenance building and the 152nd Security Forces Squadron’s Modular Containerized Small Arms Training Set, a state-of-the-art indoor shooting range.
“I’m very impressed with Nevada,” ‘Uta’atu said Tuesday following an Army aviation orientation flight. “I’m amazed by the facilities we have seen and all the people we’ve encountered, ranging from the hotel staff to the Nevada Guard leadership to the Soldiers we’ve met.”
The Tongan delegation of three that included Lt. Col. Lord Ve’ehala and Sr. Warrant Officer Pakofe Kava toured Nevada Guard facilities, met with Gov. Brian Sandoval’s staff, and spent several hours with Reno-based Tongan community leaders during the northern Nevada portion of their trip.
In September, Nevada will send a delegation to Tonga.
“Next month, we will host the Nevada military in Tonga,” said ‘Uta’atu. “We will be planning for future exchanges between Nevada and Tonga.”
The Nevada Guard and Tonga entered into their State Partnership Program agreement in April. The pact is the newest official relationship in the program, a Department of Defense function that links a state’s National Guard with the armed forces or equivalent of a partner country in a cooperative, mutually beneficial agreement.
Brig. Gen. Bill Burks, Nevada’s Adjutant General, said Nevada is an ideal partner for Tonga because both face similar challenges.
“Nevada and Tonga both have population centers separated by vast expanses of land or water.,” Burks said “In a contingency situation, we both must overcome similar difficulties created by the vast areas between our population centers.”
The early exchanges between the two parties are focusing on planning for future training exchanges.
Both generals agreed the partnership is gaining momentum.
“In the beginning phase of this partnership, we are looking at 6-8 exchanges per year,” Burks said. “We aim to focus on medical, legal, enlisted development, engineering, environmental and renewable energy exchanges in the future as well as joint military exercises, too.
“We are only limited by our imaginations on how we can expand this partnership in the future.”
“I hope the momentum continues,” ‘Uta’atu said. “I can see a lot of opportunities for us to work together, not only for us in the military, but for all Tongans and Nevadans.”
- Nevada Guard’s flood response proves historic
- March 27, 2017
LEMMON VALLEY, Nev. — For three weeks this month, Nevada National Guard Soldiers and Airmen were activated for the organization’s largest domestic operation in response to a natural disaster in 20 years as about 140 moved sandbags on behalf of residents and constructed a 4-mile HESCO wall — a 4-foot-tall barrier supported by 12,000 yards of sand — in an attempt to alleviate flood damage.
- Busy schedules don’t deter Nevada Guard Soldiers, Airmen on duty in Lemmon Valley
- March 16, 2017
LEMMON VALLEY, Nev. -- A weeklong biathlon in Vermont last week didn’t deter Spc. Robert Baker of Reno from answering the call to assist flood victims in Lemmon Valley this week. About 140 Airmen and Soldiers are constructing five miles of flood-alleviation barriers in addition to securing the deluged area here; they are expected to remain on state active duty orders for several days.
- Nevada Army Guard welcomes state’s 1st F model Chinook as fleet upgrade begins
- March 14, 2017
STEAD, Nev. — The first of six CH-47 F model Chinook helicopters destined for the Silver State hovered over the Army Aviation Support Facility here March 8 before finally landing to the delight of dozens of Nevada Army National Guard aviators and maintainers ecstatic about the arrival of the late model aircraft.
The arrival of B Company, 1/189th General Support Aviation Battalion’s first F model Chinook marked the beginning of a new era for the Nevada Army National Guard Aviation Control Element, which will eventually house and maintain six F model Chinooks that were previously in the active duty fleet.
- NGB Chief headlines Nevada Air Guard’s Leadership Summit
- March 14, 2017
RENO -- Gen. Joseph L. Lengyel, the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, made his first visit as a four-star general to the Nevada Air National Guard base here March 3 to headline the inaugural Nevada Air National Guard Leadership Summit. Lengyel, a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, became the 28th Chief of the National Guard Bureau last August when he succeeded Gen. Frank Grass.
- Following deployment, 422nd 1st Sgt. magically appears at son’s party
- March 2, 2017
RENO – Magician Justin Impossible completed a trick even Harry Houdini would envy when he successfully conjured Nevada Army Guard 1st Sgt. Ben Krainbrink to appear at his son Drake’s 10th birthday party here Saturday. The appearance perfectly coincided with the end of Krainbrink’s nearly one-year deployment to Kuwait with Bravo Company, 422nd Expeditionary Signal Battalion.