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    Albanian military trains with Jersey Guard on anniversary of historic partnership

    Albanian military trains with Jersey Guard on anniversary of historic partnership

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Wayne Woolley | Albanian Capt. Egluent Rika, left, and New Jersey Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. 1st Class Wayne Woolley 

    New Jersey National Guard   

    By Sgt. 1st Class Wayne Woolley

    Crowded into a small trailer with their eyes fixed on a firefight surrounding them in virtual reality, the dozen soldiers from the Republic of Albania armed forces fought a pitched battle with simulated adversaries on a recent day.

    They maneuvered vehicles and returned fire on the orders given in their native language by Albanian Capt. Egluent Rika, who was in turn translating the words of New Jersey Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class James Harrison.

    The scene in the trailer on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst was emblematic of a military relationship between the New Jersey National Guard and Albania that began informally in 1995 and officially became part of the U.S. Department of Defense National Guard State Partnership Program 20 years ago.

    Over the course of the partnership, hundreds of New Jersey Soldiers and Airmen traveled to Albania to conduct training. In turn, the New Jersey National Guard hosted hundreds of members of the Albanian military in New Jersey, as they are currently with a small group at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. The training was considered instrumental in gaining Albania admission to NATO in 2009.

    Other milestones followed. In 2011, a joint Albanian-New Jersey Army National Guard training team deployed to Afghanistan to train local military forces there.

    The milestone that matters the most to Rika, the captain who was translating in the virtual reality simulator, came in 2014 when he was among two dozen Albanians to graduate from the New Jersey Army National Guard officer candidate school.

    Rika, 30, said receiving his commission through a process widely recognized as extremely challenging gave him and his peers an advantage as they began their careers as officers in the Albanian military.

    “I gave us a good jump and motivated us to keep going,” he said, adding that nearly every member of his class is still serving in the Albanian armed forces. “Everyone earning promotions and jobs with more responsibility.”



    Date Taken: 07.09.2021
    Date Posted: 07.14.2021 10:52
    Story ID: 400676

    Web Views: 146
    Downloads: 1