Lieutenant Colonel Erik Gustafson from the Office of Military Cooperation at the U.S. Embassy in Astana attended the Opening Ceremony for Steppe Eagle 2016 on July 16th. The 13th iteration of this annual exercise is being held this year at the Stanta Training Area in the United Kingdom from July 16th until July 28th, with a focus on peacekeeping and peace support operations. The Office of Military Cooperation facilitated the largest airlift to-date for Steppe Eagle, transporting cargo and peacekeeping forces from Almaty, Kazakhstan to Mildenhall, United Kingdom. A total of 270 soldiers from Kazakhstan are participating, along with soldiers from Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, the United Kingdom, and the United States – approximately 800 soldiers in all. Participants from the US include the Virginia National Guard, and the Arizona National Guard, who have strong cooperation ties with the Kazakhstan Ministry of Defense through the State Partnership Program.