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Illinois Air Guard Visits Polish Airmen: The Illinois Air National Guard's 182nd Airlift Wing sent some of its Air Guardsmen and aircraft to Poland, where the airmen are sharing airlift techniques with their Polish counterparts in a week-long visit under the State Partnership Program. The Polish Air Force received its first of five C-130E tactical transports earlier this year. Col. Cory Reid, 182nd Mission Support Group commander, said the Air Guardsmen are there to help get the Polish C-130 force "become fully operational to NATO standards." The Polish Air Force has been working for the past two years to get its personnel ready to operate and maintain the C-130 and expect to begin supporting NATO missions in Afghanistan later this year. Polish Lt. Col. Mitzcystaw Gaudyn said to the Illinois airmen, "We are really glad to have you hear—to have the opportunity to ask you questions." Earlier this month, the director of the National Guard Bureau, Air Force Gen. Craig McKinley, said the partnership program had "matured well" since its inception to help former Soviet bloc countries to fashion new armed forces under NATO's umbrella. Now, the program serves as a springboard for partner countries to join peacekeeping operations around the world, and McKinley said there is now a military-to-civilian component that, for instance, now provides assistance to farmers in Afghanistan. (Illinois ANG report by TSgt. Shane Hill; NBG report by Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke)