GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Even mighty military leaders need a little down time with nature.
“We’ve been working this morning. They’ve been through a bunch of briefings, so we thought we’d bring them here and just let them enjoy the rest of the day,” said Maj. Gen. Durr Boyles, the Mississippi Adjutant General of the National Guard. “Let them experience what our culture’s like here and what our life is like here, in addition to just the military part.”
An Uzbekistan delegation, including military leaders and the country’s ambassador to the United States, toured the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies Ocean Adventure Park on Sunday.
“We want them to know that there is a lot of education, conservation, research,” said IMMS director Moby Solangi. “And that we care for our environment and we care for making sure that people love and preserve what they see.”
Uzbekistan soldiers are currently training at the Combat Readiness Training Center in Gulfport as part of a six-year military exchange with the United States headed by the National Guard.
It’s all part of building an important military and economic partnership with the former Soviet republic.
“This is a relationship we are building with Uzbekistan,” Boyles said. “This year, we got about 20 soldiers over here to do training with our soldiers. We hope to build on that and just continue to build this relationship with them.”
Boyles said the entire experience could lead to something even bigger.
“I think if we can connect militarily, maybe that plays into an economic partnership of some sort," he said.
In fact, other visits from Uzbekistan officials are planned later this year.
“It’s a place where my country should work with,” said Javlon Vakhabov, Uzbekistan ambassador to United States. “We rely on this state. We rely on the leadership of this state, and especially on the leadership of the National Guard.”
Among other training, the soldiers are exchanging ideas on medical care for soldiers on the battlefield as well as special forces activities. The three-week training period will be finished in about five days.