111th ATKW hosts Air Force leaders from NATO Ally and NG State Partner Lithuania

  • Published
  • By Jon Dahms

Strategic planning, capability sharing and future cooperation were the focus when leaders from the Lithuanian Air Force met with Wing, Group and Squadron leaders from the Pennsylvania Air National Guard’s (PAANG) 111th Attack Wing during a visit to Biddle Air National Guard Base in Horsham, Pennsylvania, Mar. 20, 2023.

Lithuanian Air Force Commander, Col. Antanas Matutis, and his senior enlisted leader, Command Sgt. Maj. Alvydas Tamošiūnas, were visiting Biddle ANG Base as part of a broader National Guard State Partnership Program (NG SPP) tour hosted by the Commander of the PAANG, Brig. Gen. Michael Regan. Pennsylvania and Lithuania have been partners under this program since April 27, 1993.

The NG SPP began 30 years ago after the breakup of the Soviet Union to help countries emerging from behind the Iron Curtain. It now pairs 100 nations with National Guards from every state and U.S. territories to increase regional security and advance U.S. interests.

The group will be visiting the Joint Force Headquarters at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, as well as the other PAANG Wings including the 193rd Special Operations Wing in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and the 171st Air Refueling Wing in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania.

The purpose of the visit is to strengthen future cooperation with Lithuania as part of the NG SPP, strategically plan current and future military-to-military engagements, and to tour Pennsylvania National Guard facilities and training areas.

The Lithuanian delegation was greeted at Biddle ANG Base by Col. Deane E. Thomey, Commander, 111th ATKW; and his senior enlisted leader, Chief Master Sgt. Scott P. Woods. Accompanying the delegation were Chief Master Sgt. Paul G. Frisco, State Command Chief of the PAANG; and Capt. Nathaniel Curtis, State Partnership Program Coordinator, Pennsylvania Air National Guard; and Master Sgt. Margarita Wiles from the 123rd Airlift Wing, Kentucky Air National Guard, who served as an interpreter.

“The purpose of this visit is to further the security cooperation efforts between Lithuania and Pennsylvania in support of the State Partnership Program,” said Thomey. “We’re always looking for opportunities to train and work together to improve our interoperability, learn from each other and share our experiences and expertise.”

The Lithuanian delegation received briefings from 111th ATKW leaders, toured key facilities at Biddle ANG Base and were treated to a local delicacy for lunch – the world-renowned Philadelphia Cheese Steak.